Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Au Revoir L'Espalier ... And Others

A luncheon cheese plate at the now-closed L'Espalier.
L'Espalier.  The Tam.  Durgin Park.  Three very different types of restaurants that have all recently closed, or are about to.  75 On Courthouse in the Seaport closed after just seven months.  Rumor has it that others are on the way.  Have people had it with the frustrating drive into the city?  Then, the parking.  The cost?  The restaurants say that business was dwindling.  No one wants that kind of dining any more.  The rents are outrageous.  The rising minimum wage was also a factor, driving a new model for front and back of house parity that doesn't always work for everyone.  Others say that it is the bubble finally bursting as many have predicted.
 A source for 75 On Courthouse told us that the Seaport just did not deliver the traffic that they had hoped for.  Maybe it's because of that one road in and out from the often backed-up Greenway.  And although all of those luxury condos may be selling well and at unprecedented prices we rarely see lots of people walking in and about the area.
Graeham Henderson, Executive Chef at Le Méridien Cambridge, told us:  "We have hit the saturation point."  Indeed, even his own restaurant has eliminated dinner service and many hotel restaurants are having trouble attracting a steady dinner crowd year round.  "Boston is about to see restaurant closings in unprecedented numbers.  "The real reason is, he says, is:  "Quick serve casual is a huge reason why.  Millenials love that concept and is has greatly improved with a new, wider appeal."  Take it from one who IS a millennial.

That is a new insight and may explain why some with that concept do seem to be thriving.  Committee in the Seaport District seems to always be mobbed with groups of friends all enjoying apps and a craft cocktail.  So does Earls At The Prudential.  Such restaurants are the new clubs. 

Rents and the cost of an alcohol license seem to be the biggest culprit in Boston according to many chefs and owners we talked with.  None of them wanted to speak on the record, notoriously famous for being close-lipped about closings, any closings.  Clearly, many restaurants are fleeing to the suburbs like Burlington and Lynn, with lower rents and plenty of curbside, free parking, where the dining scene is thriving.

Only time will tell and, of course, we'll be carefully watching and documenting on how things roll out in 2019.  Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts to share please do so here or on our other social media @TheBostonFoodie.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so upset about erbaluce closing. :-( That was one of my favorites.