Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Blue Room and Belly Wine Bar in Cambridge's Kendall Square Are Closing

Two award-winning spots in Cambridge--an eclectic farm-to-table restaurant and a wine bar--that are under the same ownership are shutting down.

According to an article in boston.com, The Blue Room and Belly Wine Bar in Kendall Square will be closing for good at the end of business hours on July 1, with owners Nick Zappia and Liz Vilardi indicating that they never really recovered from a 2015 fire that shut both places down for a year. The post mentions that their insurance payment wasn't enough to offset expenses, while increased competition on the local dining scene and a demographic shift in the neighborhood from Baby Boomers to millennials apparently affected both spots as well. It has not yet been divulged what Zappia and Vilardi's future plans are, though their wine shop (Central Bottle Wine + Provisions in Central Square) will remain open and a new dining spot with different owners is being planned for the Blue Room/Belly space.

The Blue Room first opened 26 years ago, with Zappia and Steve Johnson (the chef at the time) buying the restaurant from restaurateur Chris Schlesinger in 1996, with Vilardi coming on board in 2000 and Zappia buying Johnson out three years later. Belly Wine Bar is a fairly recent concept, with Zappia and Vilardi opening it approximately five years ago. The article mentions several awards received by the two spots over the years, including Steve Johnson being named best chef in 1998 by Boston Magazine and then getting a James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Northeast three years later, while Vilardi's wine program for the Blue Room got it included among Wine Enthusiast's 100 Best Wine Restaurants in 2014 while Boston Magazine gave Belly a Best Wine Program award that same year.

[July 1 update: The Blue Room and Belly Wine Bar shut down at the end of business hours last night, with an events page showing that there will be a "Funeral for a Friend" celebration today.]

[August 1 update: According to a post from E. F. Smith & Son, The Blue Room goes on the auction block tomorrow, with a variety of items being available, including kitchen equipment, fixtures, furniture, glassware, and more.]

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[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]





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