The Milk Street Cafe is offering up its space downtown for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The restaurant and catering company at 50 Milk St. made the announcement Sunday in a tweet addressed to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker.
“Dear Gov. Baker & Mayor Walsh, We would like offer you our temporarily closed large cafe space Downtown w/2 walk-in freezers & 8 walk-in fridges + top org crew to expedite the #vaccine rollout. Free,” the tweet said.
Marc Epstein, the owner of Milk Street Cafe, said in a telephone interview Monday that he got the idea from a LinkedIn post by James Watt, the CEO of BrewDog, a company in Scotland that was offering up its space for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We would like to offer our closed BrewDog venues to help with a quick roll out of the vaccine. For free,” Watt wrote in the LinkedIn post. “We have waiting areas, huge refrigerators, seperate rooms for vaccinatations and an ace team who can help organise. We want to help.”
Inspired by the generosity of the brewery from across the pond, Epstein decided to make a similar offer to local officials here.
“This is turning negative into a positive,” Epstein said in a telephone interview Monday. “If we can help vaccinate people, they can have the space...and it would be the best possible use of the space until everyone gets vaccinated.”
As of Monday morning Epstein said he had not received a response from city or state officials yet, but he had heard from several media outlets, and hoped that they would help him get the message out there.
Boston Public Health Commission officials said Monday that they thanked the cafe for its offer, and that the city is following the lead of the state, which put together a vaccine distribution plan and schedule that prioritizes the most at-risk residents. Commission officials said they’ll defer to the state’s guidance on approved vaccine distribution and storage sites. To date, the commission said, there hasn’t been a need to stand up sites with non-traditional partners.
Commission officials added that they’ll continue to work with federal, state, and health care partners to ensure widespread access to vaccination once available.
Asked about the prospect of vaccinations and storage at local restaurants, state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders expressed reservations, citing public health guidance.
“One of the things in the guidance is you can’t mix the vaccines with other, like, food storage,” Sudders told reporters during the governor’s regular State House briefing on pandemic response. “But we are, actually - we’ve not yet - but we’re starting to plan to reach out to large employers, both in terms of employers’ ability to vaccinate their staff, of course, as well as what kinds of storage opportunities they have.”
Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.
Dear Gov. Baker & Mayor Walsh,— Milk Street Cafe (@MilkStreetCafe) January 3, 2021
We would like offer you our temporarily closed large cafe space Downtown w/2 walk-in freezers & 8 walk-in fridges + top org crew to expedite the #vaccine rollout. Free. #BringBackBoston @MassGovernor @Mass_HPC @Marty_Walsh @MilkStreetCafe pic.twitter.com/PkxHd18vze