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Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2014

Below are blog entries from December, 2014. Use the links in the left column to do a quick search of blog entries, or to see blog entries from other months. And feel free to use the "Comments" links under each blog entry to reply to us; your comments just might end up in our Boston restaurant blog! (Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.)

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December, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
A Few "Real" Predictions for 2015

Earlier this month a list of 10 "predictions" for 2015 were made, with all being posted with tongue firmly in cheek. The list below includes actual predictions for restaurants and food for the coming year, and who knows? Some of these may actually come true.

1) A Restaurant Crash May Be Coming
Over the past few years, many more restaurants have opened in the Boston area than have closed, and while it appeared that this trend was starting to peak early this year, the past few months have seen the trend gaining even more steam. To put it simply, this cannot continue, and seeing so many dining spots in the region sit mostly empty night after night, a bubble may indeed be getting ready to pop.

2) The Food Truck Craze Will Continue
While a restaurant bubble does seem to be forming, the same cannot be said for food trucks. A number of new trucks debuted in 2014 and it sounds like more are on the way for the upcoming year, and based on the long lines at so many of the trucks in Boston and elsewhere this past summer, this trend seems to have some legs to it, at least for the short term.

3) Neighborhood Restaurants and Bars Will Continue to Close, Selling Their Liquor Licenses to Big Players
This one seems to be a lock, as chains, local restaurant groups, and well-known chefs seem to be willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for liquor licenses. That kind of money would allow the owners of local dining and drinking spots to retire, go into something new, or simply take a break without having to worry about finances, so watch for neighborhood joints--and in particular dive bars--to keep closing in and around the city over the coming year.

4) Whiskey Becomes the Next Craft Beer
With local distilleries popping up here and there in the Boston area, it seems that demand for whiskey is definitely on the rise. More and more restaurants and bars seem to be putting a major focus on bourbon, rye, and scotch these days, with small-batch whiskies especially popular at some spots. Craft beer will also continue to be very big, though it seems that with so many options out there from microbreweries, it may be reaching a bit of a saturation point.

5) Burlington, Braintree, Peabody, Waltham, and Woburn Will Become Seen More and More As Dining Destinations
The suburbs of Boston have seen the opening of a number of restaurants over the past few years, and the so-called satellite cities and towns--communities that are business centers located at or near the intersections of major highways--are seeing especially strong growth, including both chains and independent dining spots opening. The downtown areas of these communities probably won't see as much growth, but the bustling areas near highways will likely see new restaurants and bars of all kinds opening at a rapid clip.

6) The North End Will Continue to See a Shift Away from Italian Food
Just a few years ago, this neighborhood of Boston was where diners went for Italian food and nothing else. Lately, however, Mexican restaurants, chains, juiceries, coffee houses, and other spots have been moving in, and for the most part they seem to be doing relatively well. And with the neighborhood continuing to be gentrified in part due to the completion of the Big Dig and the development of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, expect to see this trend to continue--though Italian restaurants will still be the main focus here for the foreseeable future.

7) FroYo Will Continue to Crash, the Burger Craze Peaks, Hot Dogs and Fried Chicken Grab the Spotlight
The first prediction here is an easy one, as there are simply too many frozen yogurt shops in a city whose climate isn't really conducive for year-round froyo eating. As far as burgers go, the higher-end places should continue to see decent demand, but there appears to be too many mid-level burger chains and independents and not all of them will survive. Finally, demand for hot dogs and fried chicken may result in new spots opening that serve these items (Korean fried chicken is already becoming big in the area).

8) The Fenway Becomes the Next Seaport District
Signs of this are already being seen, with a very large Wahlburgers slated to open on Brookline Avenue, a massive new Wegmans scheduled to open basically across the street from Wahlburgers, familiar names such as Bar Louie, Yard House, and Jerry Remy's already in place, and all kinds of building going on along Boylston Street. One difference (at least for now) is that a number of independent restaurants and bars can still be found in the Fenway, while the Seaport District consists mainly of chains and dining spots from major restaurant groups.

Monday, December 22, 2014
Some Restaurant and Food "Predictions" for 2015

As a few of you may recall, some "predictions for 2013" and "predictions for 2014" have been made on this site over the past couple of years, none of which have come true (well, maybe a few, but those came about by accident). And now it's time for some restaurant and food predictions for 2015, with some of these predictions hopefully coming true--or not.

1) Facebook Opens a Chain of Cat Cafes
After discovering that 95% of all posts on Facebook relate either directly or indirectly to cats, the social media giant will decide to open a number of Cat Cafes across the country, including one in Boston, two in Carlisle, and another in the middle of Boston Harbor (it will be the world's first floating cat cafe). The name of the chain will tentatively be Grumpy Cat's.

2) A Durian Truck Opens, Then Shuts Down Because of Exhaust Issues
Among the 350 food trucks that debut in Boston in the spring of 2015 will be a truck that features durian, an Asian fruit that smells like old socks. The city will quickly revoke its license because of complaints about the smell coming from the exhaust pipe, though it is eventually learned that the smell had actually been coming from the food.

3) A South Boston Dive Bar Sells Its Liquor License to an Upscale Chain for $600,000 and Jon Lester
One of the last neighborhood drinking joints in Southie gets an offer from a group of Northern Italian eateries that will allow the owners to retire to Cape Cod and at the same time (via a three-way deal with the Chicago Cubs) land a ringer for the softball team they form at their condo complex.

4) More Restaurants Open with Punctuation Marks in Unusual Places
After seeing the success of MAST' in downtown Boston, owners of other new dining spots jump on the trend and open such places as Mal?den Sushi and Noodles, Ashmont-Hill-Cafe, Billy's !Pizza! Place, the Red(Stone) Steakhouse, and Dot...Ave Grill.

5) An Independent Restaurant Opens in Boston's Seaport District
Just kidding.

6) Panera Opens a New Chain of Hard Rock Clubs Called Pantera
Noting a void in the number of rock clubs found in major American cities, the national chain of bakery-cafes goes a new route with a flagship club in Boston's Faneuil Hall but quickly changes the name of the chain from Pantera to Scone Temple Pilots because no one who owns a laptop and a bicycle with fixed gears seems to know what a Pantera is.

7) In-N-Out Burger Announces Major Plans to Continue to Not Come to Boston
The California-based burger chain does say that it promises to open a location within 2,000 miles of downtown Boston by 2018, however.

8) A Food Truck Opens Two Restaurants Inside Its Truck
Taking its cue from the upcoming Coppersmith in South Boston which plans to include two food trucks inside its restaurant space, a food truck decides to try the opposite, with a 1-seat New American restaurant and a 2-seat cafe set up inside its truck. The City of Boston okays the plans but rejects the proposal for live music on Saturday nights.

9) A Restaurant Called "Closed for Renovations" Opens in Cambridge
A new dining spot with a rather unusual name opens in Harvard Square, but the lease becomes too much for the restaurant and it puts up a sign in the door saying "Closed for Renovations," causing more than a small amount of confusion.

10) A Restaurant Opens in a Still-Working Power Substation in Hyde Park
With the news coming out that a restaurant could be opening in a now-closed historic substation building in neighboring Roslindale, a local chef decides to open a farm-to-table dining spot in a still-in-use substation just north of Readville. The menu features blackened everything, with the beer list being limited to options from Shock Top.

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Twelve More of the Best Food Dishes of 2014

photo of banh mi from Pho Viet's, Allston, MAAs 2014 winds down, it is time once again to look at some of the best food items tried this year. Back in June, a "Part 1" of this slideshow was posted, with the Twelve of the Best Food Dishes of 2014 (So Far) including a variety of outstanding items ranging from soup to pizza and much more. Now it's time to check out more top dishes, with all of these being from restaurants, bars, and food shops in the Boston area (none from outside of the region this time around, unlike some slideshows done here).

The link below will take you to "Part 2" of the slideshow that looks at the best food items of 2014.

Slideshow for Twelve More of the Best Dishes of 2014

Related Blog Entries: slideshows