Wednesday, January 10, 2024

end of Boston Market

Passing regrets at the disappearance - at least in many areas of the US, and possibly nationwide - of the fast-casual restaurant chain Boston Market, once a regular custom of mine.

I discovered Boston Chicken, as it was known then, in 1994 when I attended Readercon in Worcester, Massachusetts. There were few places to eat in Worcester, at least that I could find, but just across the city line was an outlet of Boston Chicken, which kept me fed during the convention.

Soon afterwards, its outlets began to appear out here in California: this was one of three times that a chicken chain from elsewhere has followed me home. The first was El Pollo Loco from L.A.; the third was Popeyes, which I found in Florida. El Pollo Loco grills its chicken; Popeyes is fried; but Boston Market was rotisserie. It is the only chicken chain I've found that could consistently deliver tender breast meat. The chicken was always good, and the side dishes were palatable, but that's all they were good at. The sauces they'd occasionally concoct and offer to drape over the chicken never added anything except messiness, and their attempt to expand into ribs was a complete disaster. Just stick to the original chicken.

I went there often as the number of outlets expanded, until it became as ubiquitous as Popeyes is here today; but gradually the number of outlets decreased, and I only went when I was near one and needed a quick meal. Last weekend I found one closed with a lock fastening the door. A little research revealed that a new and fiscally incompetent owner had been failing to pay suppliers and even the rent, and swaths of the chain across the country had been closing down. Their web site claimed only three open outlets in the whole of the state; one was nearby, and I found it as closed as the rest, with a sheriff's confiscatory notice stuck to the door. Apparently they really had not been paying the rent.

So I guess it's gone, probably permanently.

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