With the list of culinary mainstays in Boston closing due to the economic fallout created by the COVID-19 pandemic growing weekly, it’s fairly obvious restaurants are some of the hardest hit businesses during these uncertain times.
Many restaurants were forced to close or change to take out and delivery services during the height of the pandemic only to reopen with limited capacity.
Each week, more and more popular eateries are closing simply because they can no longer make their margins through phased reopenings and limited capacities.
On Friday, Mayor Walsh kicked off a new pilot program in Jamaica Plain aimed at helping struggling restaurant owners reach more customers during the ongoing COVID crisis.
According to Mayor Walsh the summer pilot program announced last Friday for the City of Boston’s Food Truck Program will support valuable small businesses that have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. The program will also provide residents throughout the City’s neighborhoods with additional accessible and safe food options.
“Small businesses and restaurants employ our neighbors and add to the vibrancy of our community, but have suffered greatly due to our COVID-19 response,” said Mayor Walsh. “This summer Food Truck pilot will provide additional dining options for residents and visitors across our City, while also adhering to public health guidelines in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
So far Rolling Gyros, Wing Gawdz and the Chicken & Rice Guys will be at the Arboretum on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays.
Rolling Gyros will be the Arboretum serving up some Greek fare on Wednesdays while Wing Gawdz will be at the Park on Thursdays and the Chicken & Rice Guys will be there Saturdays.
The food trucks in Jamaica Plain will vend from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Walsh said while food trucks have been able to operate as “food take-out businesses” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Streets Cabinet, and the Inspectional Services Department collaborated to create new spaces in local commercial districts and adapt to changing commuter and workplace conditions.
“The City of Boston has waived all site permit fees for this summer pilot,” said Walsh.
However, all food trucks must be approved to operate, have up-to-date certifications and permits, and are required to continue following all public health guidance by properly marking 6 feet spacing between customers and maintaining social distancing. All food trucks that have not signed up yet but are interested in participating in the pilot are encouraged to fill out an eligibility form.
Walsh said earlier this year, an interdepartmental effort created a new online application portal which allows food truck owners seeking to vend in the city an option to submit all approved licenses, certifications, and required documents digitally.
This new online method, provided in addition to in person, email, and by mail application options, provides food truck owners with a more transparent and streamlined permitting process.
The City of Boston has also created a number of useful guides and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including a new platform to advertise and purchase PPE and cleaning supplies, Open Businesses in Boston and Support Boston Restaurants, platforms which helped businesses to publicly share that they are open and direct residents to support local establishments.
To assist businesses in industries impacted most by COVID-19, the City of Boston launched the Small Business Relief Fund, which to date has distributed $6.1 million in debt-free grants to 1,685 small businesses in every neighborhood in order to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses.