Business was booming on Boylston Street on Wednesday as the general public, retail shops, and restaurants were welcomed back to the area a week-and-a-half after Copley Square became a crime scene investigation for the FBI.
The section of the city has been cordoned off since Marathon Monday, after Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly set off a pair of bombs along the race route, killing three people and injuring more than 280 others.
But this week, as the warning tape finally disappeared, Justin DiMatteo, bar manager at the Unos on Boylston Street, says the restaurant was seeing overwhelming support from members of the community, wanting to put money back into a portion of the city that took a hit financially during the ongoing investigations. “Our staff took a big hit. Some of our staff gave up $600, $700, or $800 this week and last week. We are a corporate restaurant, so we have the ability to swing people to other locations, and we got them a couple shifts here and there, but a lot of people are really fighting to get back to work to pay bills and rent and everything else,” he says.
Unos is just three doors away from where one of the bombs went off. DiMatteo says luckily none of his staff or customers were injured that day.
Thanks to an aggressive campaign called “Boylston Strong,” kicked off by Mayor Tom Menino’s office, the restaurant has been seeing a steady flow of customers lining up for food already. “We opened our doors today for the first time at 11 a.m., and we have been on a wait since we opened—which never happens to us on a Wednesday. So I think there will be that ‘Boston Strong’ mentality to show support for Boylston for now,” says DiMatteo.
While DiMatteo doesn’t know what will happen in the long-term, Menino’s immediate plan will hopefully keep people coming back beyond the first few days of business opening up. “Boston is strong and we will support Boylston Strong all weekend long,” the mayor said, adding that parking at meters on Boylston Street, as well as throughout the entire Back Bay, will be free through Sunday. “As of today, these businesses that have been off limits since Marathon Monday are open and are looking forward to receiving and serving their customers once again.”
Outside of the food industry, health spas, fitness studios, and gyms were also glad to be back open, with some offering proceeds from classes to help families impacted by the blasts.
A bar crawl is also being organized in an effort to pump some cash back into the businesses that are located along the once-blocked street.
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