Restaurants get creative, prepare for traditional Valentine’s demand

Amanda M. Rye

Editor’s note: This version includes a restaurant that responded to questions after The Item’s deadline.

Restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions such as the curfew and capacity limits during the pandemic.

But many have adapted. Loosening restrictions, and the end to the curfew, come as many hope to have customers for a usually busy time – Valentine’s Day – and as the vaccine rollout, despite some glitches, gives hope for the spring and summer.

The patio at The Mill at 185, in West Boylston, was popular in warmer weather. [Photo for The Item]

At The Mill at 185, on Route 12 in West Boylston, the live music continues, in a way. It is virtual, and customers can still enjoy it while eating.

“We’ve always had a following,” owner Tony Topi said. For The Mill, “the challenge is more promoting takeout. We’ve never really been a takeout place.”

But Topi has taken it a step further, offering access to local performers through the restaurant’s Facebook page so people can enjoy the show, whether eating at the restaurant or at home.

In warmer weather, The Mill at 185 in West Boylston had entertainment outside. Now, the music has gone virtual.

He encourages people to get takeout, which has become a greater part of the business, even if from other restaurants.

Down the street, NOLA Cajun Kitchen, which had opened a small patio and even occasionally offered jazz music, had to go to all takeout. New England weather not being favorable to outside dining in the winter, people have been getting the New Orleans fare to go. 

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