While some Beacon Hill restaurants that have opted to remain open to offer takeout and delivery during the covid-19 crisis aren’t generating a substantial profit, they are providing a much-appreciated service for those in the neighborhood who aren’t particularly adept in the kitchen.
“We went from $50 a day to a $100 to now several hundred dollars a day,” said Babak Bina, who along with his sister, Azita Bina-Seibel, owns and operates Bin 26 Enoteca at 26 Charles St. “It’s not profitable, but it’s a way for us to try to continue to increase our takeout business and provide a crucial service to people who want prepared meals locally.”
Bina, who said takeout previously accounted for practically “none” of the restaurant’s business, added, “We have switched into high gear in a few days…and hope to provide some variety in [neighbors’] everyday meals that is wholesome and delicious from Bin 26.”
While Bin 26 Enoteca continues to offer delivery via Uber Eats, two of its sister establishments haven’t fared as well: jm Curley in Downtown Crossing and its steakhouse, Bogie’s Place, made just $50 in takeout over the course of a week.
“There was no light at the end of the tunnel, so we were forced to shut down,” Bina said, especially since many of those restaurants’ regular patrons who are employed at downtown businesses are no longer coming into work each day.
Cheers at 84 Beacon St. and 75 Chestnut also gave up on offering takeout after a week, which Markus Ripperger, president and CEO of their parent Hampshire House Corporation, attributed to the fact that the “experience that worked in the restaurants didn’t work at home.”
Antonio’s Cucina Italiano at 288 Cambridge St. is providing takeout Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. by calling ahead at 617-367-3310 while offering a 20-percent discount on all dinner orders.
But owner Steven Colarusso said the restaurant is only doing a fraction of the business it was before the covid-19 crisis struck Boston.
“We’re sustaining and keeping our main workers on in the kitchen,” Colarusso said. “Just to keep them all working is the game plan.”
Colarusso said the future now largely hinges on what relief the federal government provides to small businesses like his.
Florina Pizzeria and Paninioteca at 16 Derne St., which is now offering takeout and delivery, and encouraging customers to order online at Florinapizza.com, or call ahead to 617-936-4494 and pay by phone, has seen its sales cut in half since the covid-19 pandemic struck Boston.
“In the beginning of the week, we’re really slow, but towards the end of the week, things pick up,” said Barry Proctor, who co-owns the pizzeria with John Cucinatti. “We’ve received a lot of support from our loyal customers from the neighborhood, and the nighttime is busier because they’re home.”
Proctor said he is also appreciative that customers picking up take-out orders from the restaurant are respectful of practicing social distancing with not only its staff, but also other customers.
But the lunchtime crowd before the covid-19 largely consisted of those working at nearby businesses and in nearby office buildings, and that customer base has nearly vanished.
“The absence of offices and businesses that are open has really hurt our lunch business,” Proctor said. “At this point, we’re just trying to keep business afloat and the doors open and not just completely lose our staff, so they can pay their bills, too.”
Harvard Gardens at 316 Cambridge St. is now offering delivery via Grubhub and takeout (call 617-523-2727 to place an order) daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Nicole Russo, PR representative for the Lyons Group, which operates the restaurant, wrote, “They have done enough business in the neighborhood to continue it for now.”
In addition to starters, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, Harvard Gardens is also offering Make Your Own Nachos Kits and Make Your Own Tacos Kits – both of which come with the essentials and your choice of chicken or pulled pork – for takeout and delivery. The restaurant is also discounting all food orders by 50 percent from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and providing a free roll of toilet paper with every order.
Harvard Gardens, meanwhile, did its part to pay forward yesterday afternoon, April 1, by offering bagged lunches to all Mass General Hospital doctors and nurses.
“It is the restaurant’s way of thanking the hospital for their hard work, courage and service during this awful time,” Russo wrote.
Peregrine at The Whitney Hotel on Charles Street is currently offering “Family Meals” – a selection of fresh and handmade options that changes each day – by calling ahead by 5 p.m. at 617-826-1782 for orders that can be picked up between 6 and 8 p.m.
“We always offered takeout, but it wasn’t really part of our business model,” said Joshua Lewin, proprietor of Peregrine, as well as another restaurant, Juliet in Somerville. “We’re trying to be incredible streamlined.”
Today, there are three employees on hand at Peregrine, compared to the typical 15-person service staff that was typically on hand, and the restaurant is currently scrambling to keep up with demand.
Yet Lewin said the restaurant is currently only generating about 8 percent of its income prior to the covid-19 crisis, although a decision by Gov. Charlie Baker last week that allows the restaurant to offer takeout beer and wine could boost that number to 16 percent.
“Some things are more important than revenue right now, but obviously that puts the business at incredible risk,” Lewin said. “We haven’t furloughed any staff …but we still need revenue to keep the jobs viable, which we’re trying to do for as long as possible.”
Besides The Upper Crust Pizzeria, which is now offering pickup and delivery from its 20 Charles St. location, other options in the neighborhood now include Mooo…, the steakhouse at the XV Beacon Hotel at 15 Beacon St., for delivery via caviar.com, as well as the Anna’s Taqueria location at 242 Cambridge, which is offering takeout and delivery, with delivery available on several apps, including DoorDash and Grubhub, according to the Eater Boston website.
Other temporarily shuttered neighborhood restaurants, including Panificio at 144 Charles St., The Sevens Ale House at 77 Charles St. and the Tip Tap Room at 138 Cambridge St., have launched GoFundMe campaigns to help benefit out-of-work employees, according to Eater Boston.
Meanwhile, Bin 26 Enoteca, as well as jm Curley and Bogie’s Place, are now offering discounted gift certificates, with 50 percent of proceeds going towards relief for their currently furloughed employees.
But Babak Bina said many customers are insisting on paying full price and requesting that staff receive the amount of the discount, or not even claiming the gift certificates they purchased and donating the full sum to employees.
Bina is also grateful for and encouraged by the many supportive emails he has received from customers nationwide and said he has also personally called each of his employees twice to check in on them during theses uncertain times.
“We’re in uncharted territory at this point, but if we all row together, we can point this ship in the right direction and survive,” Bina said. “The most important thing is to continue to spread the word of camaraderie, compassion and supporting each other.”