Dine Out Boston aims to revitalize restaurants
Dorchester’s 50Kitchen among the participants
Sizzling skillets and three-course menus abound in Boston once again during Dine Out Boston restaurant week, August 8-21. For two weeks, diners can experience new restaurants or old favorites through fixed-price lunch and dinner menus ranging from $15-$38.
Approximately 100 restaurants are participating in Dine Out Boston this year. Pre-pandemic, those numbers were closer to 200, but Anthony Caldwell, chef and owner of 50Kitchen in Fields Corner, says staffing issues have made many restaurants nervous about the Dine Out rush. 50Kitchen is participating in Dine Out Boston with a menu featuring favorites of Caldwell’s clientele: shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, a pulled pork sandwich and other items.
Staffing challenges aren’t the only hurdle restaurants are dealing with right now. Supplies are expensive and difficult to find, Caldwell says. For example, the price of 35 pounds of fry oil, which lasts him about three days, skyrocketed from $17 to more than $40 due to pandemic shortages.
But 50Kitchen hasn’t been without support. “I love Dorchester, everything about it. When this pandemic hit, these people, this community, wrapped their arms around me,” says Caldwell. “They squeezed me with love, they squeezed this restaurant with love. It was overwhelming.”
These tough circumstances are what inspired Caldwell to participate in Dine Out Boston for the first time this year. The rush of new diners will hopefully put 50Kitchen on more secure footing.
Helping restaurants get back on their feet is one of two main goals of Dine Out Boston this year. “In March, it was very much a springboard for recovery, and in this August summer program we’re looking to kind of sustain and build momentum for recovery with the restaurant industry,” says David O’Donnell, vice president of strategic communications at the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Bureau is also hoping to bring diners into communities like Roxbury and Dorchester, where exceptional cuisine exists but rarely gets its due.
On the Dine Out Boston landing page, foodies can search for restaurants by neighborhood, price and cuisine. Most restaurants will also be offering the Dine Out menus on Saturday, a day historically excluded from the deal.
The pandemic has been hard on restaurants, but Caldwell says he is both determined to persevere and excited to see what traffic Dine Out Boston will bring to the restaurant. “When I look at Dorchester, when I look at the community, my family dependent on me, I can’t quit,” he says. “I promised them that I would be there.”