Covid closures hit Dartmouth restaurants

Nov 8, 2020

Covid has claimed another casualty in Dartmouth: Padanaram’s popular Sail Loft restaurant has closed its doors as of Nov. 1 due to pandemic restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining.

The restaurant joins the ranks of other indefinitely closed establishments like Buster’s Bar and Grill, which has yet to reopen after a summer hiatus, and the permanently closed Duke’s Bakery, both on State Road.

“With all the Covid regulations, it just made it impossible to do the sales we needed to stay open,” said Sail Loft owner Joe Sauro of Wareham, adding that the restaurant has been there for eight years. “It certainly is a sad state of affairs.”

Managing partner Hunt Latham said that due to limitations on bar seating, indoor dining, and even restrictions on the number of patio tables, the owners made the choice to walk away indefinitely.

“We’re down to six tables in the dining room,” he said. “We can spend six months or so trying to break even. But going into the winter…we’re just packing it in.”

“Winter has never really been a profitable time for us,” he explained. “It’s really more about being the neighborhood bar, the Cheers of the community.”

And without full bar seating, Latham said, the restaurant couldn’t keep going. 

“We’ll miss our customers quite a bit, but the hardest truth is that people are losing jobs,” he added. “It comes down to peoples’ livelihoods — that’s really the bottom line. That’s the hardest part.” 

Latham went on to note that the property owner has been “very accommodating” and that if no other renters take the spot, the Sail Loft owners may reopen the restaurant in the spring. 

“It’s possible,” Latham said. But right now, he stressed, “We just have no idea what it will look like.”

“It is overall a very difficult time for restaurants,” he added. “Anything could happen.”

A spokesperson for Buster’s Bar and Grill noted in an email that the restaurant will remain closed “until the rules allow us to have full seating in dining room and bar area.”

“We look forward to the time we can safely reopen and serve our fabulous Busters Fans,” the email finished.

Meanwhile the Thirsty Whale on Cove Road has reopened this week for the first time since closing in March.

Senior bartender Leah Rego said that the bar/restaurant took the decision to reopen when bar seating was allowed again.

After a soft opening and a slow start to the week, the outlook is uncertain, she noted. 

When asked if the Covid restrictions — and the new 9:30 p.m. restaurant curfew put in place by Governor Baker on Nov. 6 — would affect the business, Rego said, “We’re gonna try not to let it.”

“We’re kind of just playing it by ear and seeing what happens,” she added.