On March 15, The Oyster Club shut its doors temporarily after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker banned dining at restaurants and bars due to the coronavirus pandemic. Two months later, on May 30, the restaurant was looted amid violence that erupted after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Boston.
When Baker announced the plan for outdoor dining in Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, Chris Parsons, chef and owner of the Back Bay restaurant, was preparing to open his outdoor space and bring back his employees. "Patio season" is the restaurant's most important time to be open for business, he said.
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But one week before the reopening, the looters broke windows, mirrors, chairs and bottles of alcohol, among other damage. Parsons said he doesn't believe his restaurant targeted, but rather randomly selected because of the bar. No employees were present during the incident.
Before this incident, the year-old restaurant, originally opened in August 2019, was already struggling after it did not "qualify for very much of the PPP program because of [the restaurant's] sales history," said Parsons. The owner also did not open for takeout or delivery because he did not see an opportunity, based on the neighborhood and concept.
This vandalism will delay The Oyster Bar's reopening process until further notice, but Parsons remains hopeful and notes that this "isn't the worst thing that could happen to us."
"It's great to see more and more peaceful protests, but I understand where the anger comes from and it's not surprising to me that it boils over at times," Parsons said.
He said he doesn't see the broken glass as a problem, but rather "an opportunity for a new beginning."