It seems that many Boston Restaurants are closing. Why is this happening, There are always a number of factors.
One factor may be that over the last several years a large number of new restaurants have opened all across the City of Boston.
Nick Frattaroli, the second-generation restaurateur behind Ward 8, North Square Oyster, Bodega Canal and the soon-to-open Tony & Elaine’s, sees a pattern.
“I think it feels accelerated,” Frattaroli says. “I think it’s the obvious. A lot of the large restaurants are opening up in different parts of the city that are really developing right now. It really affects everybody, I think it makes it really hard.”
Frattaroli sees some concepts bearing the brunt of it.
“I think the ones that are probably getting hit the hardest are the ones that are more special occasion-type places where you can’t just pop in all the time,” Frattaroli says. “The reality is it’s hard to fill up those types of restaurants right now.”
Joshua Lewin, co-owner of Juliet in Union Square, feels that the rapid growth of Boston’s restaurant industry makes it hard to divine whether closure rates are out of the ordinary.
“To have an accelerated rate of closure implies that there was a rate of closure that we can compare it to, but I think that the industry from five years ago till where we are today is kind of apples to oranges… which makes it even scarier to be in the middle of,” Lewin says.
He attributes the success of Juliet, which will mark its third anniversary at the end of February, to its unique concept that includes seasonal pre-fixed menus, a walk-in al la carte menu and even turns Italian each Sunday night as “Romeo’s at Juliet.”
“From the beginning we wanted to diversify what was available to our neighbors to protect against [risk] a little bit,” Lewin says. “We do have people coming in for dinner from all over, and that was kind of always the point with these pre-fixe style dinners and these pretty involved special occasion-type experiences. At the same time we really wanted to capture the spirit of a neighborhood too, so that we weren’t relying on just that.”
Lewin also sees the proliferation of chains as a challenge to independent restaurateurs.
“One of the most difficult things as an independent restaurant operator, especially in a hot neighborhood, is that chains can always compete… [chains] can do things for cheaper, they can pay more in rent, they can weather storms in their business plans and their business modeling, and they can serve guests faster… what they can’t become is a personal part of a neighborhood.”
I think that the many factors are that dining in Boston for people in the suburbs has lost it’s appeal and that many restaurants in the suburbs can do almost as well.
What do you think?