Thousands of Massachusetts restaurants to stay closed permanently

BOSTON — While restaurants in Massachusetts are reopening Monday for indoor dining, many won’t be opening at all. They are closed for good after not being able to overcome the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The patio is empty, the doors are locked and the signs says it all. After 27 years in business, Bella Luna Restaurant and The Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Plain are shut for good.

The owners said they had no choice.

“It’s a very difficult decision. We just felt we couldn’t keep the virus out of the restaurant and that would be a danger to our staff and guests, so we felt it was time to thank everybody and open a new chapter and close our doors and move on,” said Kathie Mainzer, owner of Bella Luna and the Milky Way.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association predicts nearly a quarter of all restaurants, 3,600 out of 16,000, in the state will close due to the pandemic.

For some, it’s due to the absence of college students, which make up a big part of their business. Conor Larkin’s in Fenway is among them. It is a popular hangout for Northeastern University students. They announced in a Facebook post that they’re closing their doors for good after nearly 20 years in business. They said the COVID-19 pandemic was too much to overcome.

Same with Cafe Pamplona in Harvard Square. They've closed after 62 years.

In Hyannis, the popular Seaside Pub on Main is closing after more than a decade in business. They posted a message to Facebook saying it has been a wonderful 11-year voyage.

“Cape Cod is the second densest part of the state. For restaurants without normal tourism drivers and all of that, it’s very concerning down there,” said Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

He believes even more restaurants, like Bella Luna and The Milky Way, could fold.

“People are grieving, it’s like losing a family member. Some people have been with us all 27 years, many people 10 or 15 years. We did Zoom calls with the staff and we all cried it’s the end of an era,” Mainzer said.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association said Boston has them most concerned because they don’t have the population drivers that typically bring people into the city, like sporting events and tourism.

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