While the first month of 2021 brought paltry earnings for many of the city’s already struggling dining establishments, one well-established neighborhood restaurateur foresees brighter times on the horizon for them.
“January certainly was bleak, but with the news of the vaccines, the election finally being over, and, most importantly, the lifting of the 9:30 curfew, along with allowing 40-percent capacity, it has been tremendously helpful,” said Babak Bina, who, with his sister, Azita Bina-Seibel, owns and operates Bin 26 Enoteca on Charles Street, as well as jm Curley and its steakhouse, Bogie’s Pace, in Downtown Crossing – all under the BiNA Family Hospitality umbrella. “It’s sad that many restaurants in and surrounding Boston, and across the country, have gone out of business permanently. However, I feel those of us who somehow or another have hung in there will benefit in the months and years to come.”
Bina understands both the 9:30 p.m. curfew and 25-percent capacity that were temporarily imposed on restaurants in the city and across the state came as a necessary and well-advised response to the surge in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, but, he said, that did nothing to lessen the blow for these dining establishments.
“It was certainly prudent by the state and city government,” he said. “Nonetheless, it was still devastating.”
Moreover, Bina realizes that no restaurant can ever recoup business they’ve lost so far to the pandemic, especially during the holiday season, which, he said, has traditionally been boon times in his industry.
“We really didn’t have much of a holiday season,” he said. “Holiday parties – those were nonexistent – along with gift cards, and the second thing that has carried us through January in the past is New Year’s Eve, which give us hibernation money, and we didn’t have any of those. That’s why many restaurateurs decided to shut down after New Year’s Eve for possible reopening in the spring.”
But even in the face of diminished revenues, BiNA Family Hospitality’s restaurants have remained open to accommodate their loyal clientele.
“We made a conscious decision to keep Bin 26 and jm Curley and Bogie’s Pace open after meeting internally between ownership and management staff,” Bina said. “We felt strongly that we want to live by the motto of being there for our guests when they want to come and dine out.”
One promising sign for the future, he added, is that “many restaurants have hit the ground looking for available space to rent.”
Bina said, “Just on Beacon Hill, we have a few happenings related to restaurant concepts that will become public knowledge very soon.”