Congratulations, you’re just days away from making it through Boston’s snowiest month in history. With 62.7 inches piling up since the beginning of February, almost 20 inches more than the average seasonal snowfall, and 2 of the top 10 heaviest Boston snowstorms of all time according to The Weather Channel, February 2015 has been one for the books. We’ve definitely felt our fair share of winter at Boston College from all the snow days, to hearing that our favorite dining hall workers had to sleep over the night before to make sure we could eat the next day, to the infamous "Mursday"--but the whole city of Boston has taken a pretty serious hit, too.
As the unprecedented amounts of snow piled up throughout the city at a faster rate than the snow plows and emergency workers could keep up with, Governor Charlie Baker had to turn to outside help to clear the roads and get Boston back on its feet. According to the Boston Herald, the Vermont National Guard was called in on February 11 to help with snow removal for 15 days, bringing a fleet of dump trucks and other equipment with them.
While the roads and the MBTA were shut down in the aftermath of the storms, businesses and all of the universities in the greater Boston area were forced to adapt. Even Harvard, a university that used to say it would “close only for an act of God, such as the end of the world,” has had three snow days in February. According to Boston.com, combined with other events in the last few years, Harvard undergraduates have had as many days off in the last five years as there were in the entire twentieth century.
Although BC is (fingers crossed) back to running on a normal schedule, Boston restaurants and small businesses have had a more difficult time bouncing back. Freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions have kept consumers from going out to eat, forcing restaurant owners to get creative with marketing techniques to draw in customers. Free appetizers with an Uber receipt, half-price prix fixe menus, and snowshoe valet are among the many tactics Boston restaurants have attempted to attract business, but the harsh reality is that restaurant revenue can’t be made up later.
Even Valentine’s Day, an especially profitable night for restaurants, was significantly slower for a lot of businesses in 2015. “There’s no doubt that snow greatly affects the restaurant industry, but with this type of prolonged event, everything just gets compounded,” Bob Luz, Massachusetts Restaurant Association president, said to Boston Magazine. “What you have to realize is that these are sales that restaurants never recoup. Just as an example, if you had to cancel a haircut appointment because of bad weather, you’ll just reschedule and go back later in the week. But if you decide to not go out to eat before the Beanpot, it just doesn’t happen."
The closing of restaurants and the loss in business due to snow are greatly affecting the employees of such establishments because they are unable to work and make money. "These employees are often local to the area where they work," said Luz. "That’s why we’re urging people to get out and support their neighborhood restaurants.”
With the threat of layoffs and slow business worrying restaurant owners and workers, one can only hope that people continue going out to eat and that the snow slows down, at least for a little while.