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Why The Pressure's On Boston Restaurants, Amid Great Opportunity

Uncertainty's pretty much the norm in the restaurant business, but the industry's in a real pressure cooker now. The speakers at our Boston Restaurant Development event on Feb. 9 will talk about the squeeze on the business — and the opportunities for new concepts in Boston.


Massachusetts Restaurant Association president Bob Luz, who will give the keynote, tells us "compliance, regulation and employee-related costs have been escalating sharply for a number of years now, and while restaurateurs want to be great employers and corporate citizens, the frank reality is that we cannot continue to be everything for everybody."

Minimum wage has increased the past three years by 38%, and is sitting at the highest in the nation at $11/hour, Luz said. There's talk of going to $15, and eliminating the tip wage. Sick leave was mandated by voters last year, paid family leave is now proposed.

Mandated scheduling is being discussed, which would require schedules filed three weeks in advance and three to four hours of pay to any employee who picks up a shift not scheduled. "Small employers can't afford all of these, legislators need to look at the totality of what they're asking, and not just each individual item alone.” 


Cushman Concepts co-founder Nancy Cushman, noted for O Ya and Hojoko, will speak about Boston's "restaurant capital," the Fenway. "The fabric of Fenway is rooted in deep tradition, so it's been exciting to be part of the evolving landscape of new restaurant concepts in the neighborhood," Cushman said.

"We're happy to be part of that with Hojoko, a Japanese tavern, in The Verb Hotel. We and the other restaurants in the neighborhood are poised to grow as the neighborhood grows, while helping to drive the attraction to the area."

Find out more at our Boston Restaurant Development event, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 with breakfast (what else?) and schmoozing at District Hall, 75 Northern Ave. Sign up here.