Jan 8, 2024 - News

Why Barbara Lynch's restaurant empire is shrinking

A photo looking into the window of Menton, a Boston restaurant owned by Barbara Lynch, with diners sitting in the background/restaurant.

Diners eat inside of Menton, owned by Barbara Lynch. Photo: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Even famed chef Barbara Lynch can't keep her restaurants open in Boston.

Catch up fast: The Barbara Lynch Collective announced on Friday it will close three of its Fort Points restaurants — Menton, Sportello and Drink — because of an "uncooperative landlord," WBUR reported.

  • The company also plans to sell The Butcher Shop and Stir in the South End to former proteges of Lynch.
  • Just three of Lynch's restaurants remain in operation: No. 9 Park on Beacon Hill, B&G Oysters in the South End or The Rudder in Gloucester.

Why it matters: The closures affect some 100 workers, and they deal a blow to Lynch's restaurant empire in her home city.

What they're saying: "Boston is no longer the same place where I opened seven restaurants over the last 25 years," Lynch said, per the Globe.

  • "Properties have been flipped and flipped and the landlords just want the rents that only national chains can sustain."

Between the lines: Lynch's team argues the closures are the result of landlord issues and prior restaurant managers failing to "respond to post-pandemic realities," as Lorraine Tomlinson-Hall, a turnaround specialist Lynch hired in the fall, described in a press release.

  • But the closures also come months after the famous chef faced allegations of creating a toxic workplace, which the South Boston native has denied.

Zoom out: Down the street from Lynch's shuttering restaurants, Barlow's and Oak + Rowan used to draw customers to A Street.

  • They've closed in recent years, along with Blue Dragon, in part because of pandemic-related stresses.

What's next: Any future expansions will likely happen on the North Shore, where Lynch opened The Rudder last year.

Protip: Patrons who bought gift cards for the closing restaurants can use them at one of the remaining restaurants.

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