What's for Dinner, Boston?
Updated: Aug 29
A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to embark on a food tour across Boston to meet with local restaurant owners and talk about the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic had -- and continues to have -- on their business. I reached out on social media to ask residents to recommend their favorite local spots and dishes, and the recommendations started flooding in! I had a long list of places to visit, but I was excited to get started.
Over the last few weeks, I have met with small business owners who have shared with me stories of hope and perseverance, but also of uncertainty as Boston faced one of its biggest challenges to date. As a restaurant owner myself, I know all too well the difficult decisions that many of our City’s entrepreneurs were faced with this past year. From deciding whether to remain open or not, to drastically changing business operations to ensure that each employee went home with a paycheck at the end of the day, the pandemic forced us to adapt to a new normal.
Although I haven’t made it to the end of the list, I wanted to start sharing this journey with you to help uplift and highlight these incredible establishments, as well as the incredible cuisines that can be found in Boston.
When I spoke to Chef Krayla Brice about her experience opening her small business — KrayPlates — in Boston, she opened up about the arduous journey that small business owners often face trying to launch their business off the ground. Chef Krayla knew she was taking a risk when she opened KrayPlates during the pandemic, but the true challenge came when trying to obtain the licenses and permits required by the City to operate a small business. Watch the full conversation below to learn more about Chef Krayla and what she thinks Boston can do to better serve young entrepreneurs.
Shanti Indian Cuisine
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jabin, who is a manager at Shanti Indian Cuisine in Dorchester. You can also find a Shanti location in Roslindale, and a Shanti Express in Roxbury that serves takeout only. Like many other restaurants in Boston, Shanti has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic on the food industry. However, according to Jabin, it was Shanti’s loyal customers that allowed his business to survive the pandemic without laying off any of his employees. Watch my full interview with Jabin below, and if you have recommendations for a restaurant or dish I should try next, let me know by filling out this form.
Tucked away on the corner of Stoughton and Bakersfield Street next to the Bakersfield Laundromat is a door that opens to the smell of fresh tacos, fajitas, and burritos. Dora Taqueria opened in February 2020 just a few streets over from me in Dorchester.
When I stopped in for a carne asada burrito the other day, I had the pleasure of talking with the owner, Kelmyn Mejia, about what the last year has been like for him. We both agreed -- it’s been hard. Kelmyn kept Dora Taqueria open for the entirety of the pandemic, but struggled to afford payroll, bills, and his rent.
Like many other small business owners, he was aware and thankful that the City of Boston stepped in with some much-needed relief for small business owners, but as a new restaurant owner, he found making the time to fill out the application difficult.
Stories like Kelmyn’s are widespread amongst local business owners in Boston, and access to resources becomes increasingly difficult for small and minority-owned businesses. This is why as Chief of Economic Development, I led the effort to help small businesses that had been impacted by COVID-19 with immediate relief and helped them navigate the evolving financial assistance landscape. The level of hardship that small and local, minority-owned businesses have experienced is immense, and we are now challenged to make sure that efforts to assist these businesses in their recovery are equitable and inclusive. As Mayor, I will continue the work to uplift our small business community by increasing financial wellness measures, business resources, and access to capital.