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Frustrated North End Restaurant Owners Rally for Support [Video]

North End business owners gathered on Hanover St. to protest Gov. Baker’s reopening plan. (Photo by Matt Conti)

North End restauranteurs listened closely to details of Gov. Baker’s four-phase reopening plan and were frustrated to learn that it would be at least until mid-June before indoor dining would be allowed. Even then, only partial occupancy, perhaps 25-50%, would be permitted with the likely addition of strict new guidelines, including social distancing of 6-feet between unrelated parties.

Business owners had an impromptu rally on Hanover Street on Monday afternoon to express their frustration. “I cannot believe how our politicians are treating us. The restaurant owners are losing their livelihoods,” said Jorge Mendoza of Vinoteca di Monica and Monica’s Pasta Shop. The lack of specificity added to the frustration with owners not clear when to bring back employees, order supplies or reconfigure their spaces.

Many owners in the North End believe the State’s potential guidelines would not work in smaller eateries but rather are being designed for larger restaurants. “We’re all small businesses and its disappointing that no one cares that 70-80% might not reopen,” said Damien DiPaola of Carmelina’s and Domenic’s.

“We took a major hit,” said Frank DePasquale, President of the North End Chamber of Commerce. “I have a plan to reopen the North End,” he added, hoping for an audience with State and City officials.

Frank Mendoza of Monica’s Mercato and Monica’s Trattoria asked the Governor and Mayor to come down to the previously active corner of Prince and Salem Street, to see how it has changed. “I have worked here since I was 16 years old and I am not going to lose everything,” he said.

View the list of North End restaurants open for takeout and delivery.

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69 Replies to “Frustrated North End Restaurant Owners Rally for Support [Video]

  1. I’ve lived in the north end for twenty years and do no want people from other places coming here and spreading their germs thank you gov baker for keeping us safe

    1. Just open! They won’t be able to stop you all. Remember the people run this country not a few stupid politicians. Be brave and resist!

    2. This is the United States, you live in the North End, you don’t own it. That was a very foolish statement. Stay inside while folks come into the N.E. And help the business.

  2. notice there’s NO local representatives in either of the video you were shooting on the local news casts!

    1. Maybe they don’t support their decision.???

      It seems to me they don’t even want to open at reduced capacity. So, it’s what…. an all or nothing approach?? That’s not reasonable or realistic.

      Do we really think or believe We should just go back to normal like this never existed??

  3. I am wondering how these individuals are going to keep their customers safe when they clearly are not taking care of themselves in this picture! Where is social distancing? Where are the masks?? Please don’t prepare my food!!

    1. Fed, do you have any idea how many precautions a restaurant owner takes in a daily basis to serve his customers? Do you have any Idea how often we are inspected or are you familiar with the health code that we are govern by? Did you believe Baker and Walsh when they told you masks didn’t work, why do you think they work know? Oh! because Baker and Walsh told you. Did you believe Walsh when he told us that we should visit Chinatown and celebrate Chinese new year at the beginning of the pandemic. And are you aware that social distancing depletes the inmune system. Last I check Fed I have certain rights they are well documented in our constitution and bill of rights, google them maybe you learn something. Ignorance is deadly.

      1. The social distancing procedures at you da which store are a disgrace I believe the majority of the restaurant workers come from Chelsea and east Boston. The restaurants should have included epidemics in their insurance

    2. the owner of monicas said he won’t wear a mask or social distance so good luck to customers. Its shameful because the north end has a lot of elderly

  4. The ignorance and small-minded exhibited here is so discouraging. It’s also Interesting that not one person interviewed expressed any sympathy for those who are suffering from or have died from COVID-19, their neighbors who are not being paid and who couldn’t afford a meal out even if restaurants were open, or community members who are working on the front line day in and day out providing essential services or caring for those who are unwell.

    1. If you know anything about these three business owners that were speaking here, Frank, Jorge & Damien, then you would know that they are constantly giving back to the North End! They feed the elderly at “club”, they donate food to the children at “club”, they are always willing to help out. Please don’t put these and other North End business owners down if you don’t know them. They are just trying to open their businesses. This is their livelihoods like the rest of us. North End Strong!

    2. Sorry Katherine, I don’t know where you been hiding but most restaurants are selling prepared foods, groceries, beer and wine to help ease the pressure on supermarkets. And let remind you restauranteurs are the most generous contributors to local causes our community and greater charities that are in the front against the fight against hunger, cancer and a million other causes. aside from the fact that we ornament our neighborhood streets with beautiful storefronts that we keep clean and well lit. I am affected by virus in the same way you are, I know many who have had it and unfortunately some who have died. Have YOU
      noticed how much we have all aged? The impact from the effect of the fear mongering and isolation is going to be the demise of many more. You seem have a terrible case of it, help your self you have no idea what you are talking about.

      1. I say do it safe do it right but JUST OPEN. Whomever wants to come fine. This is taking out me rights to life away. Fear is a horrible thin it makes one think irrationally – of course you restraint owners KNOW how to sanitize etc. Should we trust the politicians or TRUST our own instincts.

      1. Not true, flu kills about 60 thousand Americans a year. We’re closing in on 100,000 deaths in 3 months. Plus their is a vaccine for the flu but for whatever reason many people don’t get vaccinated. Saw a poll that showed if there is a vaccine for COVOID-19 33% of all Americans will not get vaccinated???

  5. Frank Mandoza is 110% right! Don’t give up Frank! I’m glad you will stand by your rights as an American. You have rights. What Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh say are not laws. We have the Constitution for a reason and guess what? This is a very good reason. I’m always proud to be a Life Long North Ender! Stay Strong North End! Lets all stick together during this difficult time.

    1. LLNE, I have some news for you, not all long time North Enders agree with Frank but certainly support his right to speak up.

      Here’s a thought, OK to not wear a mask but if you do get COVID, you cannot seek care from a hospital. I have a lot of friends who are nurses who cringe when they see people acting recklessly without a mask. Many of them have commented to me “great, they don’t wear a mask, don’t come to a hospital if you get the virus”.

      1. ANON~ Nobody has proven that the masks help with the Covid 19 Virus and to reply to your comment about your nurse friends saying “great, they don’t wear a mask, don’t come to a hospital if you get the virus” that isn’t a caring nurse. I pay a very high premium for my health insurance and if I have any other sickness other than Covid 19, I cannot be seen at a hospital and you think this is ok?? These nurses and doctors, who I think very highly of and I pray for on a daily basis, chose their professions, and God bless them, but saying that quote isn’t someone that sounds like they are caring people. They are caregivers. That is their job.
        If you want to wear a mask, nobody’s stopping you. If someone choses not to wear one, that is their chose. This is America, home of the free.

        1. Of course they are going to care for you. The point is, the medical world overwhelmingly agrees that masks help in some way. You can find anything on the internet to support anything you want to believe, which is your right. But some people won’t believe ANYTHING if it’s an inconvenience. in any way.

          Talk to an RN who just worked a 12 hour shift for the 10th day in a row at the ER at MGH and tell him/her you don’t think a mask is warranted and let me know what they say.

          1. The masks are designed to stop/slow the virus from spreading there is no debate about it. If it wasn’t for the cooperation and sacrifice of the majority of the public to wear a mask and to practice social distancing in addition to staying at home as much as possible I don’t want to think of how many people would have perished. If I wear a mask I am not a threat to you . If you don’t wear a mask you are a threat to me.

          2. I am a nurse and no one said masks were 100 percent to stop the spread but a person doesn’t just let out droplets when they cough or sneeze, they let out droplets just from speaking. This is why it’s a good idea to cover up, it protects the vulnerable and immune suppressed, those who take meds for chemo and rheumatoid arthritis and lupus among other immune related diseases. it also protects everyone from other peoples droplets. The biggest reason for masks is that there are people walking around who have the virus, they are asymptomatic, that’s why we wear masks. if we don’t it will get bad in the Fall and Winter and then things will close up again. It’s not like the flu, it damages organs and literally lasts weeks, there is nothing to treat it or prevent it, all we have is the ability to try and stay safe any way we can. I wish those who claim it’s not that bad could see the horror I have seen

      2. Before there was a flu epidemic there was a drug epidemic.. These are people who injected themselves with poison but ended up in the hospital with overdoses. Getting hooked and not getting clean was their choice. Do these same people deny them medical attention? They don’t. God help us if there is an inquisition process to determine whether patient is worthy of service.

  6. Baker has bungled this response, absolutely. He needs to listen to actual small businesses on this. However. The North End isn’t going to be the same after this. Baker’s timetable is vague because we don’t know if these measures will be enough to suppress cases of Covid. We’re in uncharted territory here, and I’m happy that he’s not putting dates on these. Even if social distancing restrictions are eased (which will lead to more cases, more deaths, probably a second lockdown), the North End is going to see a MAJOR hit to tourism this summer. The restaurants that have been pivoting to selling flour and veggies are making a smart move.
    What the government needs to do is comprehensive rent and property tax relief not just for private residences but for commercial institutions as well. This will give businesses at least some chance of recovering.
    If you think just cramming people back into the North End is the right move, y’all are nuts.

  7. I applaud the message. How many of those that critique anyone who wants to open have been to a grocery store? Or the Goose? Or the liquor store? How is any one of those any safer than a restaurant. I’d like to hear someone tell me they stay socially distant at the Goose. I’m an adult who can make up his own mind on which risks I choose. What’s happening in our neighborhood and across the state/country is offensive. For anyone who wants to be a sheep and obey, that’s your right too…..

  8. What Marty Walsh and Charlie Baker are doing is clearly unconstitutional. These people are going to lose their business which they worked their whole lives for to prevent something that has infected far less than 1 percent of people.

    The mayor and Governor are scared to make a decision because they are cowards and they don’t care who they affect in the process. They have clearly shown that they are incapable of making important decisions and not very intelligent.

    Our government is letting violent criminals out of jail and causing working class blue collar Americans to lose their livelihood and not be able to feed their families!

    The local politicians should be the most ashamed of themselves. They all use our small businesses to host campaign fundraisers, to get donations from, and to hang their signs. But when the small business needs them they are no where to be found. They should be embarrassed.

    I have an idea. If you don’t want to go eat at the restaurants cause you are scared of the coronavirus then stay home!! Don’t go!! Nobody is forcing you.

    1. Our politicians are not cowards. They, and we, are dealing with an unprecedented crisis that affects all of us and our health and well being. They are following the best advice of our esteemed Boston medical community with a focus on safety and saving lives. No wants to be in this situation. Walsh and Baker are the furthest thing from cowards. How are you helping our community and your neighbors stay healthy and get through this crisis? Stop the name calling!

    2. Two Federal judges in two states have ruled city ordinances or executive orders by Governors , Mayors Or boards unconstitutional. This stems from churches, but also everything else, such as gathering. I wouldn’t force myself on others, but on the other end if four or five gathered together,, then don’t force yourself on us. Just stay away.

  9. “people are losing their livelihoods” True, however people are losing their lives. I don’t know much about the restaurant business but I do know something about human nature. The group pictured is not practicing social distancing & most aren’t wearing masks? If the restaurants were allowed to open today what guarantee is there that customers are going to eat in a restaurant? It does not matter if you serve the best food in the state and have the best service , if people are afraid of being exposed to the virus I don’t care if you give them free food :::their not coming back. I would not go to a restaurant, movie theatre, concert ,library ,bar ,beach sporting event or go on an airplane. That’s my right.

  10. Damien’s point is a good one. This is the most vibrant restaurant area in the state, if not the country. Why haven’t we seen ANY pol reach out to them? Where’s our city councilor? Where’s our rep? The mayor?

    I have not seen ANY statements by them around the North End’s restaurant industry.

    Moreover, are any of our city pols going to comment about the North End Nursing Home? Again…silence.

  11. MichealD. While you may not, others will choose to go to a restaurant. Why not let individuals decide for themselves?

    1. Don’t let others go to restaurants because Covid is wildly, insanely contagious. If the people who went out and caught it were the only ones who got sick that would be fine. But they make themselves vectors when they go to restaurants and then CVS where vulnerable individuals need to go to get medications.

    2. Because they will get the rest of us sick. North End is a dense neighborhood with a history of having illnesses rage through the community.

      1. So restaurants are the only places that the virus can spread? If we only stick to CVS or a supermarket all will be well? I don’t follow?

        1. Anonymous, it’s about reducing the risk or probability of contracting this disease. Aside from sitting next to people for 90 minutes or so restaurants also place additional harm in that it becomes a “night out”. I doubt folks are making a night of it when going to the goose or cvs or walgreens. That’s my opinion, doesn’t make it right just makes it right for me.

        2. Anonymous great point. We have not always agreed on this message board and idk what the right answer is but these people are losing everything they worked so hard for and I think something needs to be done to help them. It’s a sin not only for them but also their employees who are out of work. I myself am still working but I could not imagine how I would pay my bills and feed my family if I was in the posting they are in. It’s not right.

    3. Anonymous, I do . Everyone has a choice , I get that I’m giving my opinion if someone wants to go to a restaurant that their choice. My point is many people will not go . The arrogant and pompous comments by the owners won’t help to get people back either.

  12. I feel for people who own businesses and the impact on them and their families BUT these owners seem to only care about themselves and their livelihoods. They have zero empathy for the lives lost to this deadly disease and the manner in which they spoke is absolutely mind boggling!

    For me, it’s not about the restaurants and people’s right to dine out but more about them getting infected while dining out. Again, they have that right to eat out but do they have the right to possibly infect me or my loved one’s because they wanted to dine out and I chose not too??? Not to mention, they will then go out to other places in the North End and potentially risking more lives because of their choice. Therefore, I will choose not to eat at any restaurant in the North End, not because I don’t want to support businesses but more because I don’t know the person sitting 3 feet away from me and whether or not they have been practicing social distancing…nor can any of these business owners.

    Lastly, someone commented about what is the difference with say shopping at the goose versus sitting in a restaurant?? Well, for one when shopping you are simply passing by an individual and not spending time sitting next to them for 90 minutes that you would at a restaurant. Or the wait staff who is coming in contact with EVERY patron and then repeatedly coming back and forth to your table. Thereby, increasing the risks of sharing any potential (and deadly I might add) disease.

    It is your right to say “stay home”….It is not your right to play roulette with my life because you have a business.

    Please be safe and healthy!

    1. I agree that the restaurant owners made the pandemic about them. Where have I heard that before? I would like to know if any of the owners received the Government PPP ( paycheck protection program) loans? Most of us received $1,200 which is an insult while wealthy people are receiving billions. Like the owner of the LA Lakers who got 4 million. He got outed and gave the money back.

  13. I am sympathetic to all the North End restaurant owners and staff. The ones I know are great people.
    This is is a terrible situation.

    However, look at these photos! Where are your masks? How can you argue the State/City should let you reopen when you are in flagrant violation of current rules? Do you think that makes someone more likely to hear your concerns and cries for help?

    Not wearing a mask and having a gathering of more than 10 people is currently against rules in MA. Why flaunt that you are not going to follow rules designed to keep everyone safe?

    Doing this when you asking to be allowed to reopen does not give me confidence that I should go into these restaurants whenever they do reopen.

  14. Remember the basketball player who touched every microphone as to mock the disease only to contract it a week or so later? He alone shut down the entire NBA.

    Or the pastor who called it hysteria and later died from it.

    Or The facebook guy from ohio who was anti coronavirus and he too unfortunately died of this disease.

    Over 320,000 Wordwide have died from this disease. Tell those families it’s not real!

    Fear mongering??? I don’t think so….

  15. Our household in the North End has robustly supported and enjoyed Monicas and other establishments in the neighborhood throughout (and before) the pandemic. It is sad to see such disregard for the public good and keeping our community healthy. There is room for both compassion and compromise to keep people and businesses safe and sustainable. After seeing this behavior both in print and on video, it is hard to see us patronizing these establishments again.

    1. It’s a shame, because I’ve been eating at Monica’s since their lovely mother ran the store, but I won’t even order takeout from these restaurants anymore. It’s not just their selfish & ignorant opinions, but a genuine concern for my family’s health. They’re not wearing masks here and I saw them gathering people together on Hanover st with no masks on the news & bragging about how they haven’t practiced social distancing for THREE MONTHS.

      Jorge seems to be saying on here that he knows better than scientists because restaurants know how to sanitize surfaces. That’s completely irrelevant because this is an airborne virus that people will catch sitting in your small restaurant for 90 minutes.. Has to make you wonder what other laws these guys think don’t apply to them? Sad.

  16. Is Frankie’s “plan” going to impact all the residents of the north end for the sake of his businesses? My guess, it probably will.
    If so, we want to be heard as well!!

  17. I completely agree with the overcrowding in grocery stores ,Walmarts etc.
    However the difference and it is a big difference is the mask wearing. Like these three fine gentleman patrons would not be wearing masks. If you have not seen the model of how fast the virus spreads in an enclosed space ( restaurant ) please look it up.

  18. It’s a sad world we live in..

    Us restaurant owners don’t need to flaunt or tell all of social media when we donate food to hospitals, locals etc… we don’t need your approval, we do it out of the kindness of our hearts.

    Someone said we should include this in our insurance? You haven’t the slightest clue, you CANNOT include this in your insurance.

    PPP? Do you even have the slightest idea how this works? We need to use 75% over 8 weeks to bring back our employees. How am I supposed to do that? You think they are just handing us free money? Thats not how it works. I can’t bring staff back because we are not open yet, not to mention your all getting an extra 600 a week on unemployment, so naturally none of the staff want to come back to work and again how can I bring these people back if I can’t open? Its a broken loan program.

    We all have people we know that have been effected by this virus. Of course we feel bad, of course we plan on following guidelines while in our restaurants. Out on the street we have a choice, some of us don’t believe in wearing it (this doesn’t mean we don’t believe this virus is real) we think the government is going overboard with restrictions and this whole mask thing.

    We need air, vitamin c etc.. we need to build antibodies and you can’t do this inside.

    Please educate yourselves even a little. Don’t believe everything the news tells you.

    Dr Shiva is brilliant and supports small business and knows all about the virus and will tell you some mind blowing information.

    1. Dr. Shiva has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. He is not a medical doctor nor an infectious disease specialist or an immunologist. He does not care about small businesses or the people of the North End. He is in the North End to run his political campaign and hang out with people who will donate to his campaign. The man also claims he invented the internet. Stop spreading unproven theories by unqualified politicians just because they fit the restaurant owners’ agenda to open up and not have to restrict seating or wear masks.

  19. I was travelling this week and restaurants across the nation are opening to limited service. States and municipalities are imposing their own rules. They differ everywhere. Normally 25 to 50% capacity. Mayor of Kansas City made an ordinance of 10%, far less than the rest of the state. The restaurants were telling me that most of their business was still take out, very few patrons seated. Staff is all masked. I got a plate to hot to touch without glove. Operational safety is a primary concern. The fear is that if a case is spread is traced to them, they will be shutdown. But no place is elbow to elbow these days, with maybe exception of Wisconsin.

    1. T, you said that you were travelling this week. I was wondering if you flew? I flew round trip from Boston to Orlando on March 7th – March 18th.Stayed at Disney’s art of animation resort. 50 thousand peopleat the parks,line after line for nine straight days, virus was spreading in China, Italy and Washington State . It was a miracle that none of us were infected.

      1. No I drove. Not crazy about flying even under normal circumstances. A lot has changed since March. The check-in desks have glass guards like teller Windows. Everyone is masked and the desks get scrubbed constantly. Must have used bleach, made my eyes water. I wore my mask and rubber gloves. I bring my own Clorox and I hit most of the surfaces in the room. The desk clerk told me they have a check list of things as they clean rooms. Free breakfast is grab and go. I could see the traffic was way down. First time that I every driven through Chicago and not been stuck in traffic.

  20. For anyone who doesn’t know who Dave Portnoy is (I’m guessing many), he created and built Barstool Sports into the behemoth it is today. He is widely followed, and he put out this “rant” a little over a week ago which highlights many of the same frustrations these restaurant owners, along with many more, likely feel…….

    https://mobile.twitter.com/stoolpresidente/status/1260721488241418240?s=21

    Copy/Paste into your browser if the link doesn’t work….

  21. Frank Mendoza, owner of Monica’s Trattoria, was quoted as follows by Boston 25 News: “I haven’t social distanced in three months…I take my chances with God…If I have to give up my business that I worked 25 years for, sacrificed my life for, for coronavirus…I’ll take coronavirus over losing my business!” Comments like that don’t exactly inspire customers to go through your door, in fact, it’s more likely to make someone avoid the place entirely.

    https://www.boston25news.com/news/health/north-end-restaurant-owner-ill-take-coronavirus-over-losing-my-business/3JYUNEAEUNEJROXAVVEJLUVITI/?_website=cmg-tv-10020

      1. If these restaurant owners don’t care enough about their customers, employees or the people in this neighborhood to follow the rules to protect our safety even in a global health crisis, maybe we’d all be better off if they left and made more room for responsible restaurant owners to enter our community.

        It’s bad enough that they thought that endangering the neighborhood by holding a rally with a widely-ridiculed virus truther and talking about how they haven’t followed existing social distancing orders for THREE MONTHS would gain them any sympathy, but I just cannot understand why anyone would bring a child along to expose them to harm.

        You also have to wonder whether these restaurants have been following the existing COVID 19 safety regulations about masks & such? They expected SUPPORT from elected officials with this nonsense? Maybe they should get a different kind of attention from City Hall.

  22. The problem is that most North End restaurant owners are all pretty wealthy, as it has been the most lucrative section of Boston to own a restaurant for decades.
    We have dozens of other sections of Boston where small business and restaurant owners do not make 30% of the annual income that these businesses make in the North End.
    Our politicians realize this and they need to address these sections of Boston to help them survive before even thinking about the restaurant owners in the North End telling them how to rezone our streets, and make pedestrian only sections of Hanover street in the North End.
    The politicians are tired of the same few complaining all the time and trying to monopolize the North End.
    Everyone is hurting, and I wish them all well.
    Boston is much larger than just the North End.

  23. Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reëntry | The New Yorker
    I would urge all to read this article (just google it – it is free) written by a Partners physician. It is long but written for non medical people and clearly lays out the very compelling scientific reasons for current social distancing and masks and frequent hand washing among other things.

  24. Huge fan of Monica’s- best subs I’ve ever had and have been a regular doing pick-up throughout this. Certainly will be avoiding for a few weeks now that the owner is openly talking about how he hasn’t been exercising basic precautions like social distancing or masks. That’s a public health risk and gross.

  25. A major issue is this. The powers to be don’t even want hear from owners on some ideas How they contribute in a safe way. They don’t want to hear it. We have heard doom for months, now their back tracking a little, such as stats, how it spread and so on. The warm weather is here and starting to settle in and people are going to come out and they are coming to the North End, even just to socialize. Six feet, four feet, ten feet is not going to save you if it’s that potent. But the politicians need to start listening instead of barking out orders. There is a little rebellion in all of us. Just imagine, empty store fronts all over the North End. And believe me that will change the type of people who will loiter around, as we saw before the out break. They need to listen to these owners who may have some ideas and advice. They at least earn that.

  26. Michael,

    This isn’t about the NORTH END only. It’s about the entire city and state. Now, I don’t have direct knowledge about their suggestions but I would ask (since you seem to have some knowledge on this)…. are these suggestions for all restaurants or just north end restaurants? Because that is an extremely important issue for the governor and mayor. In my opinion, Suggestions can’t be narrow minded or just for a select few – especially from a political point of view.

    Lastly, I am all for people speaking out BUT there has to be a certain way in what you say and how you say them because otherwise the message will get lost.

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