Innovation helps The Uxlocale coming out of the pandemic
‘Greenhouse’ dining is one way The Uxlocale has dealt with space restrictions
By ROD LEE
The need for continuing adjustment as the Commonwealth slowly emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic is not lost on restaurateurs like Chef Elaine Cowan of The Uxlocale on West Hartford Ave. in Uxbridge. Just as it isn’t for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, which is pushing hard for legislators on Beacon Hill to make outdoor dining and cocktails-to-go a permanent fixture here.
Provisions for this allowance, which was granted to the restaurant industry during the health crisis, are set to end on March 31st.
The Westborough-based MRA notes that while the state’s restaurants received strong support from customers when they needed it most, many were still forced to close, or were placed at the edge of bankruptcy. Takeout was a huge help, but close to 5000 restaurants shut their doors. Those that remain are struggling with worker shortages, supply-chain issues, the loss of financial assistance and inflation—as the cost of food soars.
Outdoor dining has helped to save the day, in numerous instances.
“It’s played a tremendous role in the recovery of our hospitality industry,” State Rep. Manny Cruz, D-Salem, points out. “And it’s really been a net benefit for the city. We look like a different community, similar to what you would see in Europe, with respect to outdoor dining.”
With the short-term reforms that were enacted during Covid-19 about to disappear, the MRA is asking state legislators to give restaurants the opportunity to sell beer, wine and alcohol with takeout and delivery orders.
Ms. Cowan is known not only for her fresh and flavorful fare with an accent on farm-to-table, but for her a willingness to think of new ways to increase the appeal of The Uxlocale—like a recent disco dance party she hosted.
This includes a step she took to expand the dining experience for her patrons.
“We are fortunate to have a great enclosed (from the parking lot) patio space,” she said. “I also added a ‘greenhouse;’ people have been eating outside all winter! It’s been a saving grace.”
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