Events Manager Hilary Neville had been planning for a banner year of special events at Woods Hill Pier 4, a sustainable eatery with gigantic glass windows overlooking the harbor in Boston’s Seaport District. “When we first opened in November 2019, our holiday season was booming,” says Neville. “We had tons of large corporate events and several weddings on the books for 2020.” Designed specifically with private events in mind, Woods Hill Pier 4, the third restaurant from restaurateur Kristin Canty and executive fhef Charlie Foster, offered a dramatic backdrop and modular spaces for celebrations from 10 to 200 guests.
But when Boston’s lockdown measures were put in place in March, Neville scrambled to cancel dozens of booked engagements. Due to their high price point and elegant style of fine dining, the team decided setting up takeout or delivery would be more trouble than it was worth and opted to close down the restaurant. In a familiar scene across the country, all employees filed for unemployment and existing food reserves were pickled, frozen, or cooked down for staff family meals.
When Boston restaurants were allowed to re-open for indoor dining on June 22, the team got back to work serving their signature whole animal cuisine with ingredients sourced directly from Canty’s 260-acre farm in New Hampshire. Since indoor dining was still an uncomfortable prospect for many and total capacity inside was limited due to table spacing mandates, the restaurant seized on the opportunity to welcome diners back to their scenic patio in the warmth of a New England summer.
But just as inevitable as the arrival of Bill Belichick’s cutoff sweatshirt, the summer quickly turned to a colorful but chilly New England fall. Woods Hill Pier 4 was challenged with how to bring in revenue as patio season waned. The team started by exploring the possibility of tenting their entire outdoor space. “We were working with a local company with the hopes of having a tented, heated space that could go through the winter season,” says Neville. “But the cost was just too prohibitive for us to make any money by the time it was going to be set up.”