Cambridge, MA - If there’s a gastronomic coda for 2018, it’s a refrain you’ve likely heard before. And you’ll likely hear it again throughout 2019. Restaurants in Boston—both long running stalwarts and here-today/gone-today upstarts—are closing. Whether they’re victims of circumstance or simply shrewd decisions on behalf of restaurateurs to to get out while the getting’s good, not even award winning crowd pleasers are immune from what appears less coincidental and more than a little inevitable.
When Porter Square’s Shepard announced it would serve its last meal this New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t a tremendous shock. Not even receiving nods as a finalist for Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurant in America Award” in 2016 could compete against a far more resourceful adversary: rents in the city of Cambridge.
Except, that doesn’t seem to be the case. At least not necessarily. Owner Rene Becker claims the closure is temporary, and that his team will be back starting next year in the same space—but with a new concept he refuses to divulge.
Shepard began in 2015, and quickly developed a reputation for French and Italian inspired dishes including porchetta, duck confit cassoulet and duck tagliatelle alongside wood-fired pizzas—the latter of which drew the ire of Cambridge neighbors (about as difficult a task as asking for the time of day.) After a brief closing by the Cambridge Department of Public Health in 2017 over complaints, the restaurant was up and operating on gas grill cooking: just long enough to see the initial stirrings of the slowly dwindling Boston restaurant scene.
What’s closed in Porter Square since then? Ittya. Bocca Grande. Wok n’ Roll. Nearby In Inman? Tupelo. Ryles. WuBurger. Yet Rene Becker seems determined to stand.
“Seasons change. Times change. And restaurants change. On December 31, Shepard will offer its last service. From now until then, we will be celebrating a great run with all the delicious food and drink we've enjoyed serving and you've enjoyed eating,” read a notice on Shepard’s website earlier this week. “There will be plenty of Champagne at the usual ridiculously low prices and amazing cocktails. Please join us for the non-stop party.”
“... A new restaurant has been in the works for some time and this January it will be opening in the space at One Shepard Street. P.S. All Shepard gift cards will be honored at the new restaurant.”
Shepard is located at 1 Shepard St in Cambridge. For more information, please visit: www.shepardcooks.com