HEAR IT: 3 Ideas an Acclaimed, Experimental Mass. Restaurant May Try to Survive

"There are so many thoughts going through my mind in how this would look and hopefully we can still look toward this still being a thing," said Tanám chef and co-owner Sāsha Coleman.

surrounded by flowers and scallop shells at Tanám.
Courtesy of Tanám

Tanám doesn't look like lots of other restaurants.

You didn't make a reservation at the Filipinx-American fine dining joint, most nights you bought a ticket. When you arrived in the small dining room in Bow Market, you found yourself sitting at one table with every other diner. Sometimes, you'd eat with your hands. The food wasn't just a meal, it told a story, conceived and executed by the three women who still own and run it.

But the coronavirus crisis is forcing Sāsha Coleman and her colleagues, Ellie Tiglao and Kyisha Davenport, to re-evaluate the intimate setting of their restaurant, and just a year after it first launched. It's one of the things Coleman told us about in our podcast, "The Dish I Miss," along with the March Madness-themed chicken wings she really misses serving her diners and the former Boston Celtics player she used to babysit for.

"It's kind of heartbreaking," Coleman said of the need to dramatically rethink her restaurant. "The conversation never gets easier when we talk about it. We still want our stories to be told, we still want marginalized people to have a voice through what we do and be a part of what we do and still be a part of the community. But when you can't be in the community, you can't be around people, that literally is, it's impossible."

Tanám only started in 2019, and it's been a hit -- it was a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard award for best new restaurant this year.

But there's just no way it'll be back in the same form that it was in before, Coleman said. For one thing, social distancing would be impossible in the small dining room they've been using.

"We're just trying to map out different ideas how we can kind of keep it the same," she said.

Among those ideas are pivoting to catering, hosting in bigger spaces and pairing dinner with an artist or musician who might email a piece to the diners after they head home, according to Coleman.

"We honestly don't have one idea. There are so many thoughts going through my mind in how this would look and hopefully we can still look toward this still being a thing. Like, we're not ready to give up on it, but that is also a possibility," Coleman said.

Hear everything she had to say in the episode:

Contact Us