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Delays in Green Line extension mean fewer burritos for Medford

The Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance posts e-mail from Boloco honcho John Pepper about the Boston Avenue Boloco:

We opened our Medford restaurant 5 years ago in great part due to the knowledge that the Green Line was "coming" and would add vitality to Boston Ave. We heard it could be 4-5 years which sounded crazy at the time. Sadly, we’ve recently decided not to renew our lease and we'll be out November 30.

The state recently announced it could be 2020 before anybody can ride the Green Line north and west of Lechmere.

Via Davis Square LiveJournal.

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it's really sad that this is what it's coming down to. business are going to have to close for the government to really understand that dragging their feet is actually going to have a negative effect on theres areas. i can only hope that a copy of this is sent to every single person in the government so they can understand what they're doing. of course, what will probably happen is these areas will become so downtrodden in the next few years that they'll decide that they don't need to invest all of that money on extending the green line and just throw a bus line in it's place... nah, that would never happen in this city.

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me thinks the owner of this restaurant is being less than truthful about why he is closing. are we really supposed to believe that his eatery was depending on people to visit via the Green Line?? why would they? there are Boloccos all around greater boston. why would folks have to travel to the one in Medford?? his captive market was right there - the college....and apparently, the kids weren't interested in his food.

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In a word, yes. Boston Ave's seen eateries open to cover way more demand than you'll get from the Tufts students, and yes, it was in anticipation of the Green Line Extension.

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However, they likely did have a business model that anticipated more day time workers in the area, something that a transit line would bring. If they are doing well in the evening with residents, but not well at lunch time, that could be enough to kill the location. The GL extension delay might have been the tipping point. But then again, a business will use any convenient excuse. The reality could very well be that folks in Medford prefer good burritos to what Boloco serves up.

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I agree totally. Sounds like the Tufts kids preferred to take the walk to Davis (where another Boloco closed a few years back) and get Anna's or Chipotle.

He opened 8 years before the Green Line was even scheduled to move in, then says he's closing because it got pushed back five years? What was his rationale - that he was hoping he'd get a more favorable lease in the future? Other locations up there (Danish Pastry Shop and Andrea's Pizza to name a couple) seem to be doing excellently with both locals and students. This appears to be more of an excuse than a valid reason.

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I agree with anon (for once).

I really dont think Boloco is closing their store due to the Green Line not coming. Sorry, you don't base the stole reason why you are opening up (or closing a store) should be a around if a train line is coming.

I mean I DO agree it is bad for businesses that want to expand, however it shouldn't be your SOLE reason why. I am sad that its going to take this long to get this thing built now and I wish the state wouldnt delay this and find some way to give the T money to pay for it.

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I don't buy it. For a while we were ordering from this Boloco ~ weekly, for a 6 person gaming run. Not a week went by where they actually got everyone's order correct, and many weeks more than one of us had to raid our host's pantry or eat chips for dinner because what was delivered didn't meet dietary requirements (i.e. cheese for the vegan, pork in the kosher household, etc.) Our host was involved in many conversations with the owner of Boloco on Twitter (who was terribly apologetic about it all, but that only goes so far if you're the one without dinner)---if others were getting the same awful results from delivery, it's no wonder they're choosing to close.

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Liar, liar, pants on fire.

He took a five-year lease, knowing that they wouldn't even start construction for five years, but the lack of construction is the reason why he's not renewing the lease? If foot traffic couldn't support the business, he never would have signed that first lease.

Too many bad burritos.

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I just posted this same message in Live Journal, forgive the duplicity....and be forewarned that there is no news here, so read ahead at your own risk of severe boredom.


Maybe one of the best side effects of an email I assumed was private (woops, never do that!) getting leaked is that I get to now address my friend on Davis Sq LJ for the first time in a few years. Not that the closure of Medford was a big secret, or a surprise to many, but I was surprised to see my email make it as far as the Boston Globe today about a small restaurant in Medford closing without as much as a phone call being placed to our offices to get the "inside" scoop.

Below is our own press release that sheds a bit of light on how we view this. What it doesn't say is that we are mostly just SAD to leave. We had missteps in this location from the very beginning and ultimately never built the legion of loyal followers we need to justify renewing the lease (we had 15 years left if we had chosen to renew).

Here it is, for what it's worth... and please feel free to join us on our October 31 closing party.
Anyone who knows us knows we do it right, both in good times and bad ;)


Location near Tufts University ‘wraps up’ on October 31

Boston, MA – Boloco, a chain of inspired burrito restaurants headquartered in Boston, announced it will close the doors of its Medford location when its lease expires on October 31. Boloco opted not to renew the first of three lease extension options, which would have allowed it to remain on Boston Avenue until 2026.

John Pepper, CEO and co-founder of Boloco, explained the reasoning behind the decision to close the nearly five-year-old location. “Boston Avenue in Medford didn’t ever develop as we had once believed it would,” said Pepper. “Add to that the seemingly indefinite delays in the MBTA Green Line Extension Project and the unfortunate fact that our restaurant, our menu, and our service never attracted the droves of Tufts students and Medford residents we needed, we didn’t see a compelling reason to do another lap around the track. We obviously wish that we had done things differently that could have made us successful. Our Medford team will miss their neighborhood friends when they relocate to other Boloco restaurants throughout Cambridge and Boston.”

Boloco has six new restaurant openings planned in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Washington, DC in 2012. Regardless, the closing of any restaurant is a difficult decision, and Boloco will host a special event on October 31 to thank its team, loyal guests, and community supporters.


John Pepper
Twitter: @bolocoCEO

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