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Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Few "Real" Predictions for 2015

Earlier this month a list of 10 "predictions" for 2015 were made, with all being posted with tongue firmly in cheek. The list below includes actual predictions for restaurants and food for the coming year, and who knows? Some of these may actually come true.

1) A Restaurant Crash May Be Coming
Over the past few years, many more restaurants have opened in the Boston area than have closed, and while it appeared that this trend was starting to peak early this year, the past few months have seen the trend gaining even more steam. To put it simply, this cannot continue, and seeing so many dining spots in the region sit mostly empty night after night, a bubble may indeed be getting ready to pop.

2) The Food Truck Craze Will Continue
While a restaurant bubble does seem to be forming, the same cannot be said for food trucks. A number of new trucks debuted in 2014 and it sounds like more are on the way for the upcoming year, and based on the long lines at so many of the trucks in Boston and elsewhere this past summer, this trend seems to have some legs to it, at least for the short term.

3) Neighborhood Restaurants and Bars Will Continue to Close, Selling Their Liquor Licenses to Big Players
This one seems to be a lock, as chains, local restaurant groups, and well-known chefs seem to be willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for liquor licenses. That kind of money would allow the owners of local dining and drinking spots to retire, go into something new, or simply take a break without having to worry about finances, so watch for neighborhood joints--and in particular dive bars--to keep closing in and around the city over the coming year.

4) Whiskey Becomes the Next Craft Beer
With local distilleries popping up here and there in the Boston area, it seems that demand for whiskey is definitely on the rise. More and more restaurants and bars seem to be putting a major focus on bourbon, rye, and scotch these days, with small-batch whiskies especially popular at some spots. Craft beer will also continue to be very big, though it seems that with so many options out there from microbreweries, it may be reaching a bit of a saturation point.

5) Burlington, Braintree, Peabody, Waltham, and Woburn Will Become Seen More and More As Dining Destinations
The suburbs of Boston have seen the opening of a number of restaurants over the past few years, and the so-called satellite cities and towns--communities that are business centers located at or near the intersections of major highways--are seeing especially strong growth, including both chains and independent dining spots opening. The downtown areas of these communities probably won't see as much growth, but the bustling areas near highways will likely see new restaurants and bars of all kinds opening at a rapid clip.

6) The North End Will Continue to See a Shift Away from Italian Food
Just a few years ago, this neighborhood of Boston was where diners went for Italian food and nothing else. Lately, however, Mexican restaurants, chains, juiceries, coffee houses, and other spots have been moving in, and for the most part they seem to be doing relatively well. And with the neighborhood continuing to be gentrified in part due to the completion of the Big Dig and the development of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, expect to see this trend to continue--though Italian restaurants will still be the main focus here for the foreseeable future.

7) FroYo Will Continue to Crash, the Burger Craze Peaks, Hot Dogs and Fried Chicken Grab the Spotlight
The first prediction here is an easy one, as there are simply too many frozen yogurt shops in a city whose climate isn't really conducive for year-round froyo eating. As far as burgers go, the higher-end places should continue to see decent demand, but there appears to be too many mid-level burger chains and independents and not all of them will survive. Finally, demand for hot dogs and fried chicken may result in new spots opening that serve these items (Korean fried chicken is already becoming big in the area).

8) The Fenway Becomes the Next Seaport District
Signs of this are already being seen, with a very large Wahlburgers slated to open on Brookline Avenue, a massive new Wegmans scheduled to open basically across the street from Wahlburgers, familiar names such as Bar Louie, Yard House, and Jerry Remy's already in place, and all kinds of building going on along Boylston Street. One difference (at least for now) is that a number of independent restaurants and bars can still be found in the Fenway, while the Seaport District consists mainly of chains and dining spots from major restaurant groups.


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