‘Death Sentence': Mass. Restaurant Owner Says Businesses Won't Survive Unless State Intervenes

Joseph Crowley, who owns Breakaway in Danvers, says with no more outdoor dining and new restrictions on indoor dining, many Massachusetts restaurants won't survive the winter unless the state steps up.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Amid the reopening rollback in Massachusetts, one Danvers restaurant owner is calling on the state to step up. 

Joseph Crowley says without a better plan to support the dining and entertainment industry, people's favorite local spots likely won’t survive the winter.

“We’ve been crushed more than any industry in the state,” Crowley said in an interview Sunday.

For ten months, Crowley has been spending more than his venue was making.

“We have not turned a profit in this establishment since February,” he explained.

The stress of laying off employees and trying to make ends meet finally got to him.

“Back in September, stress was a contributing factor, I suffered a major heart attack,” Crowley said.

He’s on the mend, but his business isn’t.

Breakaway is a live music destination, a banquet hall, and a restaurant. But right now, it’s just empty space.

“We decided to go on a winter closure,” Crowley said.

He says with no more outdoor dining and new restrictions on indoor seating, there’s no way Breakaway would’ve survived the season.

“People have to wear masks in between chewing food, they have to look at each with masks on, it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s wet, people just aren’t coming out,” he said.

So, now he’s wondering what’s next for businesses like his.

“Many of these restaurants will not last until the spring without a plan from the state,” Crowley said.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday he is taking new action to slow the spread of the virus, moving Massachusetts back to Step 1 of Phase 3, starting Sunday.

With a COVID-19 vaccine approved and a return to normalcy finally on the horizon, Crowley is warning that unless the state steps up to save the restaurant industry, there won’t be any normal in which to return.

“It’s going to be a death sentence for the North End, it’s going to be a death sentence for smaller places,” Crowley said. “It’s going to cause the closure of so many more businesses like ours.”

Crowley is hoping to someday reopen Breakaway. He’s been trying for weeks to reach state leaders for a meeting on how to make that happen, but Crowley says he hasn’t yet heard back.

Contact Us