Boston's skittish Back Bay reopens for business
BOSTON — Rich Cambriello flipped sizzling gourmet burgers on a grill to make a statement about Boston's post-bombing recovery.
“You don't want to let anyone know you're afraid, and we're not. Nothing is going to stop us. The town of Boston is freakin' tough,” said Cambriello, 41, of Revere, Mass., a sous-chef for Bone Daddy's Burgers, a food truck.
Cambriello opened for business near Boylston Street, a thoroughfare authorities partially reopened on Wednesday, two days after the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon's finish line. Other streets nearby remained closed.
Boylston is packed with upscale jewelers, clothiers and restaurants that cater to tourists and professionals from nearby office buildings.
On marathon day, it becomes the grand stage for hordes of cheering spectators who flood the city's Back Bay section to welcome exhausted runners.
Business operators said staff members displayed a mix of angst and steely resolve on their first day back since the tragedy. Few pedestrians walked the reopened section early in the day, though their numbers increased by lunchtime.
“We talked about whether to reopen today, and it seems like the right thing to do,” said Milah Jowers, 32, of Jamaica Plain, a manager at Paper Source on Boylston.
No one on staff appeared nervous about returning, she said. Workers at other Paper Source stores in states as distant as California and Georgia called or sent emails to offer help and encouragement, Jowers said.
“It was really heartwarming, considering what happened,” Jowers said.
Jack Winer, manager of Lux Bond & Green, a New England-based, family-owned jewelry store, said some of his seven employees were skittish because the store is close to the crime scene.
Winer of Saugus, Mass., said he could not open on Tuesday because police had closed the building.
“There was some nervousness among my employees when we were attempting to open,” he said. “But I think because of the very large police presence, it makes you feel even safer.”
Winer said most businesses, including his, close on marathon day anyway.
A second day of closures hurt sales and raised the question of when business will return to full strength. Winer said that likely won't happen until all streets reopen and office workers return.
An impromptu display honoring victims is a few steps from the store across Berkley Street.
Danielle Henrich-Brochu, 20, a Bay State College fashion merchandising student, visited the memorial site near Winer's store. Bay State's campus essentially straddles Boylston.
Henrich-Brochu was near the finish line on race day.
“My ears are still ringing,” she said.
The business closings formed an eerily quiet atmosphere in a typically bustling section of the city that she loves, Henrich-Brochu said.
“To get off the street to Arlington and to see hardly anyone on the street, where I walk every day and it's packed, is weird,” she said.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.