Dante de Magistris has closed his namesake business, Restaurant Dante, inside Cambridge’s Royal Sonesta Hotel.
It joins Cuchi Cuchi, which signed off today.
At 15 years old, Dante was a senior citizen in fickle restaurant years, having moved to the Kendall Square area long before it became trendy. It attracted guests through the years thanks to a waterfront patio and a steady stream of hotel visitors eager to stop in at the bar. Now that the hotel is closed through June, a captive audience isn’t guaranteed.
De Magistris says that his lease was due to expire at the end of 2020, but he and his co-owners, brothers Damian and Filippo de Magistris, would have renewed it for five more years if not for COVID-19.
“But summer is a busy time for us, with the patio. And the hotel business has always been a big part of our business, especially with the bar. We would have been happy to work on a deal to stay after the 15-year mark,” he says. “We couldn’t make the numbers work in the short term.”
Happily, his other restaurants will continue to operate. Belmont’s Il Casale will begin offering takeout, with Lexington’s Il Casale and Belmont’s The Wellington to follow shortly thereafter. He says that those restaurants’ suburban locations make it easier to attract guests.
“We’ll find a way with takeout. I don’t know for how long. But being in the suburbs, I think there are more people looking for more dining options, where there aren’t that many compared with in the city. In the North End, where I live, some [restaurants] aren’t doing that much business with takeout because there are more options.”
Nineteen-year-old Cuchi Cuchi, meanwhile, signed off with a somber message: “The fundamental purpose of socializing with food/wine/good company has been obliterated overnight by an unlucky fluke of nature which gives new meaning to ‘survival of the fittest,’” they wrote on social media. “When we can no longer live up to our maxim of ‘2 Kisses & a Hug,’ it’s time to say goodnight.”