I feel that buzz, a combination of lightness and relief. Our restaurants are full of people again. Damn that feels good.
15 months ago, we closed our restaurants when we didn’t know enough. Then when we knew in-person contact was dangerous, we reopened for takeout only and built a home meal kit business. Now that we know vaccines are incredibly effective, we’ve officially reopened indoor dining. And starting May 29 we will allow vaccinated people to unmask in the restaurants, per the change in MA guidelines.
Wow, it feels good.
Read this note I received on Tuesday, from day 1 of indoor dining at our Boylston St location –
I’ve written quite a number of Yelp reviews in the past, but never one where I wasn’t actually there. My daughter was. I just got off the phone with her. She’s one of the many people burdened with food intolerances, and has found the restaurant experience to be more stressful than pleasurable. Not at Clover Food Lab. Her server was interested in knowing as much about her food intolerances as she was willing to tell her, then took a minute to say the following: “You deserve to eat something great, that absolutely respects your condition, as much as anyone else does. It’s not a problem. I’m going to personally make sure there is no cross-contamination. I’m going to make it my mission to see that you have a great meal that doesn’t cause you pain.”
Honestly, hearing this second-hand made a father weak in the knees with gratitude. My daughter was extremely happy with her meal, and we are lastingly grateful for this person’s kindness—obviously the result of a culture at Clover Food Lab that I wish was more common. I feel like hopping on a train right now. It’s only 7 hours. I’m that grateful.
—Mark from Baltimore
That’s the business we’re in. That is what we’ve all been missing.
People keep saying, “I can’t wait for things to return to the way they were.” But is that really true? I don’t want things to return to the way they were. Do you?
I’m aiming at something different. Let’s not go back to where we were, let’s move forward to something better.
It’s taught us just how much our farmers and local food suppliers mean to us. Let’s keep those relationships strong and continue to help one another build healthy businesses. If you’re reading this buy some flour from Maine Grains. And let’s not go back to restaurants seeing one another as competitors. Let’s continue to work collaboratively and help one another. We’re so excited to get back to our favorite restaurants. Visit Flour, Villa Mexico, Mei Mei. Pick up some amazing baked goods from Bondir.
I hope we’ve learned things about making a better workplace. The restaurant industry has depended on racism for years. The tipped subminimum wage may be one of the most broadly-applied overtly-racist laws in our country. Many restaurants rely on segregated working environments. Women and men are promoted unequally in many kitchens. Let’s take an active role in figuring out why that is, and in making changes.
It’s easy to think of a restaurant as just a physical space. Just a building with tables and a kitchen, and a certain look and feel. But the magic in restaurants is more subtle. It’s the fabric of relationships that develop around these nodes. The sparks of creativity. The triumphs. The challenging moments. The beautiful bites. The stories behind them.
Welcome forward. Everything will be different tomorrow if we work together to make that happen.