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RESTAURANTS

True Bistro in Somerville joins list of Boston-area restaurants to close amid COVID-19

Here’s an inside look at restaurants that have shut down due to the economic impacts of coronavirus.

The Red-Red stew at True Bistro.
The Red-Red stew at True Bistro.Suzanne Kreiter

The restaurant scene is changing rapidly. Closures are beginning to ramp up. We’re tracking them while interviewing the chef-owners behind the decisions. We’ll modify this list routinely with more insights, updates, and maybe even some hopeful news along the way.

Sept. 3

True Bistro, Teele Square

Age: 10

Claim to fame: Vegan and vegetarian food in sophisticated surroundings on a quiet block of Somerville’s Teele Square.

Farewell message: The restaurant announced on social media that they’d served their final brunch (for now) on Sept. 6. “The best way that you can take action to protect independent restaurants, is to contact your local representative about the Restaurants Act and ask that they pass this business-saving legislation. If you’re interested, more information on the Restaurants Act is available at saverestaurants.com. Thank you!” they wrote.

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Silver lining: Still looking for one.

Sept. 3

Lir, Back Bay

Age: 17

Claim to fame: An Irish pub with a large bar downstairs and a winding staircase leading to an expansive space upstairs. Popular among Boylston Street bar-hoppers.

Farewell message: “We are sad to announce that after seventeen years of business we will be closing our doors for good. Since the day we opened we felt a strong connection to the Boston community, and we would like to say thank you to our loyal patrons who stood by us along the way.

To the Arsenal Supporters Group thank you. To the Duke Basketball fans, thank you. To the Irish Rugby supporters, thank you. To the Aer Lingus flight staff and the Seattle Seahawks Fan Club, thank you. To our amazing staff, thank you. To everyone who walked through our doors and, for a brief period, made this place your home, thank you.

We have all witnessed some amazing things together. Title winning championships, marathons, parades. The list could go on forever.

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Our mission has always been to make Lir your home away from home, whether you’re Irish, American, or a little bit of both. It pains us to leave you, but we can assure you that these memories will live on.”

Silver lining: Honestly, it’s hard to find one. Lir is among the last in a cluster of Boylston Street bars to close; Whiskey’s, McGreevey’s, and Pour House have also announced their closures. Bar-hopping — when it’s allowed again — along the Back Bay thoroughfare just won’t be the same.

Sep. 2

The Pour House Bar & Grill, Back Bay

Age: 34

Claim to fame: A no-frills pub with an all-day breakfast menu and late-night snacks like poutine tots and mini-sliders. A classic bar in the best sense.

Farewell message: “Due to COVID, the ownership of The Pour House will be changing hands. We want to thank each and every one of you very much. The heart and soul of The Pour House has always been our staff and our customers. ... And so it is so very sad to say, “Sorry, we’re closed.” Thank you for your loyalty, dedication and patronage over the years. We will miss you all. And a special thanks to the many staff members over the years for all their hard work and effort. This all wouldn’t have been possible without all of you. Be safe and be well,” management wrote on Instagram.

Silver lining: Stay tuned about new ownership details. Could a similar Pour House rise again? Let’s hope so.

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Peter Colton, the owner of The Fours, straightens up on Labor Day, a week after the sports-themed restaurant closed.
Peter Colton, the owner of The Fours, straightens up on Labor Day, a week after the sports-themed restaurant closed.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Aug. 31

The Fours, Canal Street

Age: 44

Claim to fame: A legendary Boston sports bar.

Farewell message: “Once they closed the Garden down [in March], it was just a matter of time because that was basically why we were here in the first place,” owner Colton told the Globe. “The Garden’s basically our business plan.”

Silver lining: It just might make a comeback.

Aug. 31

The Friendly Toast, Kendall Square

Age: 11

Claim to fame: A vast breakfast menu, including breakfast sandwiches made from doughnuts and lots of pancakes.

Farewell message: “We are saddened to announce we will not be reopening our Kendall Square- Cambridge, MA location. We cannot thank you all enough for the overwhelmingly positive support over the years,” they write in a Facebook post.

Silver lining: You can spend your dough at other Friendly Toasts in Boston and Burlington, as well as in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Aug. 19, 2020

McGreevy’s, Back Bay

Age: 12

Claim to fame: Owner Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys, and a loyal fan base who appreciated the just-divey-enough baseball bar vibe.

Farewell message: “We had 12 great years. It was an honor to be a part of unearthing such an important part of Boston baseball history. In addition to being Boston’s original baseball bar, it was the hangout for Dropkick Murphys fans. The staff, the regulars, the fans are family to us and always will be,” Casey said through rep Jeff Castelaz. “Rest in peace McGreevy’s: another loss at the hands of COVID.”

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Silver lining: Casey says that McGreevy’s staff will move to sister restaurants Yellow Door Taqueria and Lower Mills Tavern, which continue to operate.

Aug. 18, 2020

Cheers, Faneuil Hall

Age: 20

Claim to fame: Sam Malone, Carla Tortelli, Cliff Clavin, Norm Peterson, and Frasier Crane.

Farewell message: ”It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the permanent closure of CHEERS Replica Bar at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Our last day in Faneuil Hall Marketplace will be August 30, 2020.

CHEERS Replica Bar has had a wonderful 20 years in the iconic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, one of America’s most cherished historic landmarks. I have faced, and pulled through, many kinds of downturns and upticks in the economy within the last 20 years CHEERS Replica Bar at Faneuil Hall Marketplace has been in business. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with no assistance from our landlord (Ashkenazy Acquisition Group), has made this current challenge insurmountable,” Cheers CEO Tom Kershaw wrote in a statement sent to the Globe.

Silver lining: The original Beacon St. Cheers, which served an inspiration for the TV hit, remains open.

Aug. 16, 2020

Taranta, North End

Age: 20

Claim to fame: Sustainable Italian food with Peruvian influences.

Farewell message: Owners Jose and Anna Duarte shared a farewell note on Facebook: “Many restaurants in the North End rely heavily on tourism, sporting events, concerts, conventions, and our location has lost all of our corporate business, functions and graduations, operating at 30% of its capacity due to seating restrictions. Without all of this we cannot survive. Since March, our liabilities have accumulated to more than we can sustain and unfortunately we were not able to reach an agreement with our landlord to make things work.” They’ll close for good on Aug. 29.

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Silver lining: Visit Thursday through Sunday until then, and continue to visit their sister restaurants: Chelsea’s Tambo 22 and Norwell’s Trattoria San Pietro. They’ll also continue with Taranta-themed pop-ups and classes.

Stellina, Watertown

Age: 34

Claim to fame: Friendly, accessible Italian food (especially homemade pasta) before Watertown became a dining destination.

Farewell message: “The reasons we are closing will come as no surprise to anyone: the persistent presence of Covid19 and the limited seating required to keep people safely distanced make operating Stellina untenable.

Over the years we’ve withstood many challenges: new restaurants opening around us; the 2008 recession, the reputation of being an old restaurant. In every case, we’ve prevailed by sticking to our model of excellent service and the freshest ingredients in our innovative and/or traditional dishes. But times are different,” wrote owner Ginnie Curcio in a farewell email.

Silver lining: The restaurant will serve dinner from Aug. 18 until Aug. 22, and Curcio will be there nightly to say goodbye.

The Frogmore, Jamaica Plain

Age: 5

Claim to fame: Lowcountry cuisine in Jamaica Plain.

Farewell message: “The Frogmore is closing at the end of the week,” the restaurant shared on social media.

Silver lining: Fans can visit from Wednesday until Sunday from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. for a final feast.

Aug. 3, 2020

Bukowski Tavern, Inman Square

Age: 17

Claim to fame: A classic post-college hangout with lots of cheap beer and satisfying snacks like wings and nachos from Brian Poe (Parish Café, the Tip Tap Room).

Farewell message: “Bukowski Tavern was a successful bar. The pandemic took it,” Poe says. “This is much more than a grind, and far from being a new normal.”

Silver lining: His other restaurants, located in Boston, are slated to come back. “We’ll continue in a holding pattern with the Tip Tap Room and Parish Café and plan to reopen those locations when we feel it’s safe for our customers and staff,” he says.

July 17, 2020

Regina Pizzeria, Allston

Age: 10

Claim to fame: Perfectly oily, sooty pizza in a prime locale.

Farewell message: Regina rep Stu Thompson says that the Allston branch will close on Tuesday, July 21, due to a non-renewal of the property’s lease.

Silver lining: Plenty of other Regina outposts endure, including the iconic North End location.

July 17, 2020

Whiskey’s

Age: 35-plus, switching from pasta to barbecue in 1994

Claim to fame: Beloved Back Bay dive bar.

Farewell message: Longtime manager Becky Caloggero confirms the closure, as rents increase. “It’s not how I wanted this to end,” she says.

Silver lining: Just your hazy, booze-fueled memories.

July 17, 2020

The Field

Age: 25

Claim to fame: A comfortable spot for a quaff in Central Square, with a great patio.

Farewell message: “We are sorry to say we are closing our doors after 25 years serving the community (literally). Sadly, COVID-19 has impacted this industry. We are unable to maintain our establishment. Over the the years we have enjoyed the wonderful staff, community members, students and the various vibrant visitors that have visited our pub. It has been a second home to many. We will miss everyone in the community that visited for a day, a semester or for years.We apologize for the short notice, but times as they are we have to use our limited time left in the area to close up. As of now our doors are closed to the public,” they wrote in a farewell social media message.

Silver lining: See Whiskey’s, above.

July 15, 2020

Flat Top Johnny’s

Age: 27

The Kendall Square pool hall that serves craft beers, cocktails burgers, and other pub noshes announced on Twitter they would close August 14 after becoming “extra vulnerable under the ‘new normal.‘”

Farewell message: “2020 has been a hell of a year and has set everything upside down. While we thought this day would come years from now, we are here to announce the end of 27 years of pool, cocktails, pinball, food, and fun at Flat Top Johnny’s,” the Twitter post read. The announcement went on to thank the regulars, “who showed up in the heat and snow, during rough times and great times,” its neighbors, vendors, cleaners, and tradespeople who kept it running.

Silver lining: The post noted the restaurant would remain open for the next few weeks for outdoor service and takeout, and encouraged patrons to come in for a burger, a beer, and some “swag” to celebrate its run.

July 10, 2020

Cinquecento

Age: 8

Claim to fame: Italian food in the old South End Rocco space from the team behind neighborhood hits including Aquitaine and Gaslight. The restaurant suffered a water main break in April.

Farewell message: A message on Cinquecento’s website says that the water main break made the restaurant inoperable. “It is with great sadness that we have to announce the restaurant will not be reopening. Cinquecento was many of our most beloved restaurants. We leave Cinquecento with the fondest of memories as we look back at the wedding celebrations, holiday parties, many a baby and wedding shower, a relaxing dinner on the patio and a refreshing drink at the Rosso Container Bar,” they write.

Silver lining: Get many Cinquecento signatures, such as bolognese, down the block at sister restaurant Gaslight.

July 2, 2020

Craigie Burger

Age: 1

Claim to fame: James Beard award-winner Tony Maws flipped his famous burgers at this walk-up stand inside Time Out Market Boston in the Fenway alongside partners Michael Leviton (Lumiere) and Nick Zappia (The Blue Room). People loved the sophisticated sandwich: brisket, cheddar, pickles, celeriac slaw, and ketchup on a griddled sesame bun.

Farewell message: Maws told the Globe that without the Red Sox playing nearby, and without Boston’s usual influx of students, it wasn’t possible to stay open.

Silver lining: You can still order the meaty creation at Central Square’s Craigie on Main.

June 26, 2020

Uno Pizzeria & Grill

Age: 30

Claim to fame: Deep-dish pizza in the shadow of Fenway Park; the Uno chain launched in Boston in 1979.

Farewell message: A rep for the restaurant confirms the closure; they served their final pie on Father’s Day. They say a host of factors went into the decision to shut down.

“We are saddened that after 30 years of proudly serving the Fenway community in Boston, our Kenmore UNO Pizzeria & Grill location closed its doors on Sunday, June 21. There were a number of factors that went into this decision. Our lease is expiring soon, the Hotel [Buckminster] has closed its doors, the Red Sox aren’t playing and this restaurant thrives on those fans as well as the students at BU. The timing just made sense. Every employee who wished to stay with the company has taken a new position at one of our other 18 Massachusetts restaurants, and we are thrilled to continue to work with them in serving up our legendary deep dish pizza to our valued guests ongoing,” reads a statement sent to the Globe.

Silver lining: Other Uno pizzerias remain throughout the region, including in Braintree, Dedham, Framingham, Revere, and Swampscott.

June 24, 2020

Parsnip

Age: 5

Claim to fame: A prime location overlooking Harvard Square’s Winthrop Park in the old UpStairs on the Square space, plus innovative New American food with Filipino twists from “Chopped” contestant Jeffrey Salazar.

Farewell message: “Given the way people have changed their habits of living due to the global health crisis, they didn’t think they could reopen and have a viable business at this point in time,” says a spokesperson for the restaurant.

Silver lining: “They’ll have other ideas once this is over for that beautiful space,” according to the rep.

June 23, 2020

Tango

Age: 18

Claim to fame: Sophisticated Argentinean food in Arlington Center, started by Ricardo and Nancy Mermet.

Farewell message: The restaurant will officially close on June 28. “To our friends, customers, and those who have become like family, please know that we have cherished every birthday, anniversary, wedding, and all those special occasions you chose to spend with us. From the many batches of chimichurri, to the double kisses on the cheek from Armando, to the cocktails poured by Gabriel, we have enjoyed every moment, and it has been our true honor to have served you. These last few months have been difficult in so many ways. But our hearts were filled by the outpouring of support from our customers, and the dedication and perseverance of our staff,” the Mermet family wrote in a farewell Facebook message.

Silver lining: It could return in another incarnation. “So while we say goodbye for now, I hope one day we might be able to bring it all to life again,” they say.

June 22, 2020

Wit’s End

Age: 2.5

Claim to fame: The Inman Square cocktail bar offered live music, intensely competitive trivia nights, Taco Tuesdays, games, and bar snacks. Until recently, it also offered coronavirus antibody tests.

Farewell message: A farewell video states that “the impact of such an extended shut-down was just too great to overcome” and encourages regulars to “keep the Wit’s spirit in mind. . . . leave your pretenses at the door, be true to yourself, and enjoy the time with your friends and loved ones.”

O’Leary’s

Age: 28

Claim to fame: The Brookline Irish pub is a beloved neighborhood watering hole, known for unpretentious, hearty meals and live music.

Farewell message: ”After much conversation as a family, and many tears shed, we are announcing that the beloved O’Leary’s restaurant will not be reopening. While COVID-19 is definitely a factor, overall it is the best decision for our family as a whole to make at this time. This was not an easy decision to make, as this has been our livelihood for almost 30 years. Words can’t explain how much we will miss you all,” they posted on social media.

June 19, 2020

Bergamot

Age: 10

Claim to fame: Progressive American fine dining on the far fringes of Inman Square.

Farewell message: “Once COVID came in, it was pretty much the nail that sealed the coffin,” says owner Servio Garcia. The style of food isn’t suited to takeout or delivery, he says. “Bergamot is no longer going to exist, as we know it. All the support we have had in the last 10 years means a lot to us. The numerous accolades and memories will be put in a box to be brought out at some drunken walk down memory lane. We are going through a time in which most of us never envisioned.”

Silver lining: Happily, there’s a big silver lining here: The Bergamot team will transform the space into B2 gastropub, serving pub food and beer from FAB Brewery. The space will also serve as an art gallery. Expect takeout and delivery to start in the coming weeks. “We are excited with all the new twists in a familiar space. This is not a new chapter, but rather a new book. We look forward to sharing new and unforgettable moments with everyone,” he says.

June 18, 2020

Bella Luna & The Milky Way, Jamaica Plain

Age: 27

Claim to fame: A neighborhood mecca for pizza, family-friendly service, candlepin bowling, drag nights, themed DJ nights, dance parties, weddings, and more.

Farewell message: Co-owner Megan Mainzer told the Globe that a restaurant revolving around large group gatherings simply couldn’t continue to thrive amid social distancing protocols.

“We don’t see how we can operate in this COVID world. We’re about social closeness, groups, music. Distancing isn’t our thing,” she said.

Silver lining: There doesn’t appear to be one, at the moment. “I feel so lost,” Mainzer said. “This has been my life.”

June 17, 2020

Il Capriccio, Waltham

Age: 39

Claim to fame: One of the suburbs’ first fine-dining restaurants.

Farewell message: Owner Richie Barron posted a farewell message on social media, saying that the emergence of COVID “essentially ended our lease,” noting that he’s also spent 46 years in the kitchen. “This is a good time for me to personally step away from the restaurant business,” he wrote.

Silver lining: Il Capriccio is reopening in November under new ownership, just down the road at Waltham’s Merc apartment building.

Bar Boulud, Back Bay

Age: 6

Claim to fame: Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud at the helm.

Farewell message: "We’ve had six wonderful years at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston and have built an amazing community there. The fact is, we are in the midst of a very challenging time for restaurants, one that we never could have expected and one that has affected all of us deeply. While the doors to Bar Boulud Boston will unfortunately be closing, we continue to work with the Mandarin Oriental at Bar Boulud London and look forward to sharing other projects together in the future,” chef Boulud said in a statement.

Silver lining: Boulud has plenty of other restaurants around the world, including one in Dubai set to open in September.

May 30, 2020

Deep Ellum, Allston

Age: 13

Claim to fame: Delicious poutine, strong drinks, and a mellow patio.

Farewell message: Co-owner Max Toste tells the Globe that he needs to “streamline” the business, meaning that the beloved cocktail, craft beer, and comfort-food lair will sign off on June 7.

Silver lining: Sister business Lone Star Taco Bar (with locations in Allston and in Cambridge) will expand into the space.

Artu, Beacon Hill

Age: 25

Claim to fame: One of the longest-lived restaurants in the neighborhood.

Farewell message: The Italian restaurant will close permanently on May 30, confirmed restaurateur Donato Frattaroli. (Mom Nancy runs the restaurant.) “As much as we love Beacon Hill, it’s a small space. After 25 years, it’s time,” he said, noting that the closure is COVID-19-related.

Silver lining: Artu in the North End continues on. “Artu in the North End is built for takeout,” he says.

At Artu Restaurant, the meatball panini. The North End location remains open.
At Artu Restaurant, the meatball panini. The North End location remains open.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

The Automatic, Cambridge

Age: 4

Claim to fame: Spicy bar snacks (beef heart skewers, anyone?) and creative cocktails from Dave Cagle, who ran the late, lamented B-Side Lounge. East Coast Grill legend Chris Schlesinger helped with the launch.

Farewell message: “Winter was tough. This is the time of year when our sales double because of the patio. We’re missing out on that, and it carries the whole year, so there’s no way we can reopen,” Cagle told the Globe. “I think this will be a correction for the hospitality industry around town: survival of the fittest."

Silver lining: Cagle also told the Globe that he’s an industry lifer. Hopefully, he’ll resurface elsewhere else (and serve Frito pie).

Thai Cocktail at Cuchi Cuchi.
Thai Cocktail at Cuchi Cuchi.

Coda, South End

Age: 13

Claim to fame: Comfort food in a prime location, within quick walking distance of the Back Bay and the South End.

Farewell message: According to a rep, the space’s lease was set to expire at year’s end without an option for renewal. “The group made the difficult decision to close their doors earlier than anticipated,” the rep told the Globe, after considering operating costs and the timeline for a safe reopening.

Silver lining: Sister restaurants SRV and the Salty Pig remain open.

Cuchi Cuchi, Cambridge

Age: 19

Claim to fame: Global tapas, moody surroundings, potent drinks, excellent first date potential.

Farewell 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.”

Silver lining: The restaurant is selling the unique floral sculptures from its front facade. If you’d like to own a bit of Cambridge restaurant history, visit them on Facebook to inquire.

Dante at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.
Dante at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.Evan Richman/Globe Staff

Dante, Cambridge

Age: 15

Claim to fame: A gorgeous waterfront patio and an ultra-convenient hotel location.

Farewell message: "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,” owner Dante De Magistris told the Globe. “We couldn’t make the numbers work in the short term.”

Silver lining: He’ll continue to operate his suburban restaurants: Il Casale and The Wellington in Belmont, and Il Casale in Lexington center.

The display case at Morano Gelato.
The display case at Morano Gelato. Lane Turner/GLOBE STAFF

Morano Gelato, Chestnut Hill

Age: 10, with 5 years in Chestnut Hill

Claim to fame: Creamy, authentically Italian desserts.

Farewell message: Owner Morgan Morano leveled with the Globe: COVID-19 did the business in. “Our gelato is a little more premium because of the quality. The prices are slightly higher, but still, selling $3, $4, $5 cups of gelato? You make money on volume. If you’re a business that needs lines to generate revenue, it’s tough to pull yourself out of a two-month hole. Some businesses can adapt and thrive, but some businesses won’t be able to change their business model," she said.

Silver lining: Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Morano told the Globe that she won’t reopen elsewhere.

Swordfish "Siciliano" with capers, roasted potato, and asparagus at Stella in the South End.
Swordfish "Siciliano" with capers, roasted potato, and asparagus at Stella in the South End.Sean Proctor

Stella, South End

Claim to fame: Chic Italian food for South End sophisticates.

Age: 15

Farewell message: “It is with a heavy heart and tears in our eyes that we announce the closing of Stella Restaurant and Bar,” the restaurant said in a Facebook statement. “Today will be our last night. It has been nothing but a pleasure to serve Boston and especially the [S]outh [E]nd these last 15 years. We have made so many friends with employees and guest[s] and will miss everyone of you. Please know that this was not in our control we had hoped to come out of this stronger. We will miss all of you very much."

Silver lining: Chef-owner Evan Deluty also brought restaurants such as Bistro 5 and Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe to life. He’s prolific, so stay tuned.

The Duck Leg A L'Orange dish served at The Table at Season to Taste in North Cambridge.
The Duck Leg A L'Orange dish served at The Table at Season to Taste in North Cambridge. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

The Table at Season to Taste, Cambridge

Age: 4.5

Claim to fame: Accessible fine dining served from an open kitchen, courtesy “Top Chef” personality and James Beard semifinalist Carl Dooley.

Farewell message: “When we shut down a month ago, two months ago, we thought it was going to be a short little break, and we’d get back at it. [COVID 19] has become more and more of an issue, more serious, affecting all of us,” Dooley told the Globe. “It was really special, but now we’re in a much different landscape. It will take time to figure out what the restaurant landscape will look like going forward.”

Silver lining: Dooley hopes to open a restaurant on the North Shore. Meanwhile, Season’s takeout and delivery arm, Season to Go, remains open. So does their new sit-down restaurant, Season to Taste, in the same space.

Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report.



Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.