Mission Hill is one of Boston’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods and an area where students have started to become the predominant group in the past years, driving up rents and driving out locals. The arrival of students added to the process of gentrification in the neighborhood and also enabled local businesses catering to college students to flourish. This Fall semester, a fraction of students returned to Boston due to COVID-19, reducing both the flow of customers as well as part-time employees working for local shops. This video series tells stories of four Mission Hill small businesses, beloved by residents and students, are adapting to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tavern of Tales
Tavern of Tales had only been open for a few months before it had to close its doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said owner Nicholas Chen.
The board game bar and restaurant quickly pivoted to offer online games, including Dungeons and Dragons, and expanded their takeout options for foods and drinks.
“Because we’re a board game restaurant, board games are a very social thing so people aren’t really inclined to want to go out and meet up to play board games at this time,” Chen said. “So we’ve really had to focus on our food and drink menu, or the people who did want to do dine out or takeaway food.”
Like many restaurants Tavern of Tales has reduced capacity and staff all wear masks. In addition, they sanitize all games and game pieces in between customers, and have had to stop offering some games that are just too difficult to sanitize.
Right now, Chen said, they are working on developing new board game experiences to offer visitors.
“The pandemic was certainly a challenge especially for us since we’re very focused on this board game soulful aspect, we really had to focus on alternative ways to serve our customers,” Chen said.
Watch Nicholas Chen, owner of the Tavern of Tales discussing how they navigated challenges posed by COVID-19 and remain open to Mission Hill residents and students.
Love this series? Check out other videos in the series.
Are you a small business owner in Mission Hill wanting to be featured in this series? Let us know at [email protected]
Videos in this series are produced by journalism students in a class at Northeastern University taught by Professor Jody Santos. See more of their videos in our Early Voting series.