Needham loses pickle bragging rights

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says his city’s stores, offices, restaurants, theaters and nightclubs will fully reopen by July 1.
 
So why is Gov. Charlie Baker waiting until Aug. 1 to allow the same thing in Massachusetts? 
 
Connecticut will lift most restrictions May 19. Rhode Island will do the same on May 28. 
 
Baker’s reopening timeline is more gradual. Starting May 10, large venue and stadium capacity will increase to 25%, plus a return of road races (thanks to Scott Brown).
 
On Memorial Day weekend, bars and breweries can reopen without needing to serve food. Amusement parks and some others can reopen – with limits – too.
 
But it isn’t until Aug. 1 when all business restrictions (including ball pits...ball pits?) in the Bay State will be lifted.
 
That means retail stores, offices, gyms and other businesses -- which have been limited to 50 percent capacity since March 1 -- have to wait another three months to achieve what many states allow now, or will soon allow.
 
And, remember, Massachusetts has the second lowest rate of vaccine hesitancy in the nation. (How MA is doing in general here).
 
Baker says the Aug. 1 date could be moved up.
 
“It depends a lot on what happens in the month of May,” he said yesterday.
 
“If people continue to get vaccinated in Massachusetts, if people continue to do the right things, if people continue to do the work that we all know will reduce case counts, reduce hospitalizations, and make this Commonwealth a safer, better place, we’ll take a look at where we are and make a decision as we go about whether we can move that date up.”
 
 
Rausch softens Baker criticism
 
Needham state Sen. Becca Rausch has been one of the loudest critics of Gov. Charlie Baker’s approach to reopening the economy.
 
In late February – as COVID cases were declining -- Rausch blasted Baker's decision to allow limited indoor performances along with limited attendance at sports arenas as another "in a very long line of irresponsible, dangerous decisions."
 
But this week the Democratic lawmaker seemed willing to withhold judgement on Baker’s latest timeline and relaxed outdoor mask rules, according to Matt Murphy at State House News.
 
"I am so hopeful that the end of this pandemic period is in sight, but we cannot miss the boat when we're so close to the shore," Rausch told Murphy.
 
"We know that this will fail unless we have widespread vaccine acceptance, widespread and equitable access to the vaccine, mask wearing compliance indoors, and data informed flexibility and modifications to the reopening plan as necessary to avoid another surge."

 
Coworking demand on rise in the burbs
 
Operators of suburban coworking spaces are reporting an increase demand, while downtown locations are closing, reports Andrew Martinez at Bisnow.
 
WeWork closed three of its Boston locations. Other smaller operators have closed too. But coworking in the burbs is benefiting from employers seeking a compromise between working from home and commuting.
 
“Our Needham location, which we opened during the pandemic in May, [has] a waiting list for offices at that location right now,” says Workbar CEO Sarah Travers. “All of our locations in the suburbs have rebounded quicker than the ones downtown.”
 
Another new player, Localworks has 11 mostly suburban Massachusetts locations -- including a just-opened second shared space in Wellesley.
 
“The market where we work, 30-60-year-old professionals in the suburbs, we don’t see them going back downtown as frequently as they used to,” Localworks CEO Barry Greenfield told Martinez.
 
“The opportunity to be close to home but out of the house seems to be something people are very interested in.”
 
 
 
Big deal reminder to restaurants
 
The SBA will begin accepting applications to its Restaurant Revitalization Fund this Monday (May 3) but every restaurant and food service operator should logon today (starting at 9 a.m.) and register here to start the application process.
 
The $28.6 billion program will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. There’s already fears that the program won’t have enough funds to meet demand.
 
So don’t procrastinate!
 
 
Reminder to the rest of us
 
Massachusetts outdoor face mask mandate is lifted as of today. Masks are now only be required outside when it’s not possible to socially distance — including at large outdoor events. Face coverings are still required indoors.
 
 
Make mom proud that you’ve shopped locally
 
Here's our directory of locally sourced Mother’s Day gift ideas and local dining ideas here
 
Email info@nnchamber.com to find out how you can add your product, restaurant or other business to our Find It Local directories
 
 
Historic restoration in Newton earns acclaim
 
It’s took the Newton Cultural Alliance eight years to restore and renovated the historic Allen House. But the jaw-dropping transformation is now complete (lots of pictures here).
 
Preservation Massachusetts just awarded the project the Paul & Niki Tsongas Award -- the organization’s highest honor.
 
The Allen House has been nominated as a candidate for the People's Choice Award. Go here to vote for the project. (Really go vote).

 
Babson group explores ways to enhance downtown Wellesley
 
A team of Babson College grad students just spent a semester studying ways to energize Wellesley's downtown. Their project included a survey of about 900 residents and other stakeholders.
 
Here’s a video of the project presentation to the Wellesley Select Board. More at the Swellesley Report.

 
I'm half sour about this news
 
Needham just lost its claim to fame as home to the world’s best pickles.
 
Grillo’s Pickles, which started in Needham 13 years ago, was just sold to a California company.
 
As part of the acquisition pickle maker and founder Travis Grillo – who dressed with a certain relish and came off as a pretty cool cucumber in interviews  -- has stepped down from the company, reports Don Seiffert at the BBJ.
 
“Other CEOs want to cut costs, cut labor, yell at people and drive their fancy cars. I say cool, bro. Go do your thing. I know one thing: Travis Grillo only gives love. And people are taking notice,” he once told the BBJ.
 
Grillo made his bread and butter selling homemade pickles, based on his grandfather’s 100-year-old recipe, out of the trunk of a 1985 Cutlass Supreme.
 
After brining it out for years, they're now sold everywhere from Whole Foods to Target. The company even recently expanded into Pickle Bouquets and Pickle de Gallo.
 
Travis Grillo's slice of the sale to the California-based maker of King's Hawaiian rolls was not disclosed.  But the company told the BBJ it speared $15 million in sales in 2018 and was on track to make a salty $25 million the following year.
 
So yes, King's likely paid a great dill. 
 
And that’s all the dad jokes you're getting today. Have a good weekend.
 
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
P.S. Looking for something that appeared in an earlier edition of this e-newsletter? We’ve archived them all here.

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