How this Gloucester restaurant transformed into a haven for homeless people
By John Laidler Globe Correspondent,Updated January 29, 2021,
Two guests chat by the fireplace at the Grace Center’s winter home in the function hall of Gloucester House restaurant.SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF
A popular Gloucester restaurant known for its fresh seafood and harbor views has taken on a new role this winter as a temporary haven for people in need of daytime shelter, meals, and other assistance.
In December the Grace Center, a drop-in day program for homeless people run by Lifebridge North Shore, temporarily relocated from its regular quarters in the basement of the Unitarian Universalist Church on Church Street to the function hall of the Gloucester House Restaurant.
The arrangement, which has the active support of city and state officials, gave the center the added space it needed this winter to fully serve its guests while meeting social distancing requirements. The restaurant and its function hall are currently closed due to COVID-19, with plans to reopen in May.
“As a provider, it’s inspirational to see a business owner along with municipal leaders step up in this way,” said Jason Etheridge, executive director of the nonprofit Lifebridge.“We are bringing dignity to a group of people who otherwise would have nowhere to go.”
The Grace Center, normally open weekdays only, is able to operate seven days a week at the temporary site. Meals are prepared by the center’s staff and volunteers using the restaurant’s kitchen.
The Grace Center’s wintertime move reflects the creative work-arounds many shelters have devised to continue operating during a pandemic.
Joe Finn, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, said the health crisis has revealed that the state’s shelters were not set up for social distancing. When COVID-19 struck, he noted, many had to sharply reduce capacity and then scramble to find added spaces.
“If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it’s been the innovation we’ve seen from these community-based organizations and the community response,” he said.
Relocating to a space normally used for weddings and other special occasions also gives the Grace Center’s approximately 50 daily guests the chance to enjoy such amenities as a fireplace, banquet tables decked with flowers, and waterfront scenery.
“We typically operate in basements of churches and places like that,” Etheridge said of shelter programs. “For our guests, this has been a bright spot in an otherwise very difficult time.”
Guests are enjoying the ambiance of the temporary setting.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Andrew, a regular at the Grace Center for the eight years he has been in and out of homelessness — he currently sleeps on the street, in the woods, or at the Gloucester train station. “I like it better over here. It’s a lot more open and a lot bigger. It’s very welcoming.
“I love the food here, I like the services they provide — they give you clothes and blankets, and the people help you a lot,” added Andrew, who is homeless due to a heroin addiction he hopes to have kicked as a result of a recent visit to a treatment facility.
“This was the most selfless thing that anyone can do,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said of Gloucester House owner Lenny Linquata’s willingness to welcome homeless people to “this beautiful waterfront function hall, [a place] that makes you feel like a princess when you get married there.”
Linquata, whose restaurant has been donating meals to the Grace Center each month the past several years, said with his function hall available and Lifebridge in need of space, “We thought this was something that could work for the Grace Center, the city, and the underserved community.”
Creating joy during the 2020 holiday season hasn’t been as simple as in previous years. Despite all, I am grateful for so much, but most especially for my loving family, and, too, that our very elderly relatives –my husband Tom’s parents , my Mom, and Auntie Joy– have not been struck down by the virus.
I am especially thankful for Tom, who always puts his family first in every way imaginable way. He has been our anchor during the past ten months. Last night we celebrated our anniversary. Usually we would go out to celebrate but instead, Alex and Liv made a wonderfully fun delicious surprise dinner. My favorite is lobster, so they prepared that for the first course. Tender, sweet, and cooked to perfection. One of Tom’s favorite dinners is Alex’s Bolognese sauce, accompanied by Danielle’s pasta. That, along with a super deluxe bottle of Lambrusco from Savour, and a loaf of Virgilio’s bread made extra delicious with buttery garlic, well it was heavenly. The best fun and most memorable anniversary ever <3
A beautiful golden seal pup was seen at Long Beach Sunday morning. The little Harbor Seal appeared to be only about 25 pounds and was possibly a newborn. The pup was found at the high tide line and was perfectly intact; perhaps he had died within hours of finding him.
Baby Harbor seals spend much of their time out of water on beaches resting and warming while their moms are in the water looking for food. We don’t know how this seal became separated from its mom, but if you do find a dead baby seal on the beach contact NOAA to let them know. NOAA Hotline: 866-755-6622 (Maine through Virginia).
Edited Note – My friend Sandy shared the following phone number from New Hampshire’s Seacoast Science Center, writing that this number is a cell phone so you can easily send a text and photo: 603-997-9448. Ainsley Smith shares that SSC number is good as far south as Essex.
This is a good time of year to remind everyone what to do if you find a living seal pup, or a seal of any age, on the beach. Please keep a distance of at least 100 feet away, which is the law, and keep dogs far away. From the 100 feet distance, check to see if the seal is injured. If the seal appears to be in good condition, leave it alone and remind fellow beach goers to keep their distance. A mother seal may leave her pup on the beach for up to 48 hours!
If the seal is struggling or appears to be injured contact NOAA at 866-755-6622
Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester🐟🦞🇺🇸 Check Out today’s Menu!
A wide offering of high quality, wild caught, sustainable seafood at great prices!
On a side note I cant really hold back sorry, with all that’s going on in the world try and remain positive, try to get more fresh air, eat more fresh food, be supportive to anyone you come in contact with. We are only on this earth for a short period of time so why be negative. Lets bring each others spirits up. Accept others opinions, be open minded if you can. You all have made an impact already on the fishing industry by supporting it the way you have. It happened over night, you chose to buy local instead of imports you chose to support your local business and we hired more great people. You chose to smile when you see us and we smiled back. We have the power to change our surroundings but we are stronger together. Ok enough jibber jabber, have a great day everyone!
Located at 37 Rogers St. Gloucester MA
Drive Thru and order or call 978-281-7707
order Lobsters at drive thru only
Wed-Fri 10am-4pm Sat-Sun 8am-2pm
Cash and Credit accepted
Yesterday morning while filming on the waterfront, activity at the Blue Collar Lobster Co. caught my attention and I stopped by to see what was happening. Two words –
The entire front of the house has been enclosed in glass, with a to-go window, which allows for safe food preparation and service. The restaurant is being kept super clean (the steam cleaning man was just finishing up when I stopped by) and everyone is wearing masks.
Don’t you love the “clean pens” and “dirty pens” idea?!
Lenny shares that for the next phase of restaurant openings, June 8th I believe, the outdoor bar and dining area is organized with six foot spacing for super safe dining.
Blue Collar Lobster Co. is now serving lobsters, fresh fried seafood, sandwiches, chowder, cornbread, shrimp, salads, fish tacos, and more . Additionally you can purchase fresh off the boat seafood at wholesale prices including lobsters, haddock, and STEAMERS FOR ONLYY FIVE DOLLARS PER POUND!
Our fabulous steamers from the Blue Collar Lobster Co. No broken or undersized clams– every clam was perfect and delicious!
It is always so fun and picturesque at the Blue Collar Lobster Co. I plan to stop by on a sunnier afternoon or early evening when the cafe lights are on to take more photos.
Blue Collar Lobster Co. is open SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, 11:30am to 8:30pm
The flags that you see lining the boulevard are organized each year by Pauline Bresnihan. She owns the gift shop Pauline’s Gifts, on Essex Avenue in Gloucester, with many lovely hand painted and whimsical items for your home and garden.
Despite the pandemic, Alexandra’s Bread is continuing to provide the community with their fabulous bread and super delicious baked goods. It couldn’t be simpler shopping there, two people at a time in the shop, and you can preorder. Jon Hardy and Alexandra Rhinelander
Tom and I shared Alexandra’s Bread wonderfully delicious cranberry scones for a late breakfast this morning. I hadn’t intended, but couldn’t pass up a loaf of their exquisite olive bread, jam packed with plump black olives. So sorry I bit into it before taking a photo.
Hot Tip from Alexandra – the bandanas they are wearing come from Nelson’s, just down the street. Only $2.00 a piece!
To clarify about My Blog. Several friends have written with confused questions re my blog. I have been writing, filming, designing, photographing, and painting all my life. I started my own blog long before I began contributing to a local community blog. I both wrote and illustrated a book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which was published by David R. Godine, and have written many articles for numerous publications including a weekly column on habitat gardening. Here is a link to my blog and to my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden.
How can you help raise the next generation of PiPls? It’s a great deal to ask of people during coronavirus to care for, and write letters about, tiny little shorebirds, but people do care. For over forty years, partners have been working to protect these threatened creatures and it is a shame to put them at risk like this needlessly. We have been working with Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard and he has been beyond terrific in helping us sort through the problems this year; however, I think if we wrote emails or letters to all our City Councilors and asked them to help us get signs installed it would be super helpful. Please keep letters kind and friendly, or just simply copy paste the following:
Subject Line: Piping Plovers Need Our Help
Dear City Councilors,
Gloucester Plovers need our help. Please ask the Conservation Commission to install the threatened species signs at the symbolically cordoned off nesting areas and at the entrances at Good Harbor Beach.
Thank you for helping these birds raise their next generation.
Link to all the City Councilors, but I believe that if you send one letter and also cc to Joanne Senos, a copy will be sent to all the City Councilors. Her address is: JSenos@gloucester-ma.gov
We are open today from 10am-4pm. No need to call ahead to order, just use our contactless Drive Thru and order at the the Food Truck. Also offshore lobsters being offloaded now at the dock by Fishing Vessel Miss Trish II, will be available at the Food Truck!
To help promote our locally caught and abundant Pollock, we are having a giveaway! To enter is simple, just post a photo of your finished product of Pollock under this post along with a brief recipe, and we will pick 2 winners which will be announced on Saturday May 16th!! Thank you once again for supporting our local fishing industry, we hope you enjoy!
So very sorry to read this and hoping so much to see Howie rebuild
ESSEX (CBS) – A fire that tore through a popular seafood restaurant in Essex, just hours after a busy day of takeout orders, was caused by a gas heater left running overnight, investigators said.
Flames broke out in the kitchen at Essex Seafood on Eastern Avenue around 11 p.m. Sunday. No one was hurt, but it took firefighters about an hour to get the fire under control.
“The fire originated over the counter area where there was a 15-20 year old ceiling mounted gas heater. The heater had been left running overnight after the restaurant closed,” the State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement Monday.
Damaged is estimated at $250,000. The building inspector said it is “probably a total loss.”
Essex Seafood the morning after a devastating fire there, May 11, 2020. (Photo credit: Anna Meiler – WBZ-TV)
Piping Plover Chronicles – new series – currently following three different PiPl families at three different locations. This is great for comparing and contrasting. Our PiPls are behind, by several weeks. Not because they arrived any later, but because of dog and human disturbance in the nesting area, which is due to a lack of signage. We are working to correct this oversight.
A behavior shared by all Plovers is called “foot-trembling.” Also called “foot-tapping” and “foot-pattering,” the vibration caused by the PiPl shaking its foot brings worms and other prey closer to the surface of the sand.
Please send in your wildlife stories, restaurants and businesses you think we ought to know more about and help support, fun recipes, and anything else you would like to share about.
This family is just rockin innovative ways to get their product out to Cape Ann residents. Thank you Giacalone Family for helping to feed local citizens super delicious and affordable fresh sole, haddock, lobsters, and scallops!
Curbside Drive Thru Menu. 5/9/20
DRIVE UP AND ORDER
or Call 978-281-7707 for call ahead (phone lines open at 10am)
Castaways Vintage Cafe has a lovely selection of succulents potted up in sweet pots with bits of shell tied in. They sold out their first batch, but will have a brand new selection ready to purchase Saturday morning.
These will sell out quickly at this price, so get them while you can! Plan your stop over to include one their delicious and nutritious acacia bowls and coffees.
Castaways Vintage Cafe is located at 65 Rogers Street, Gloucester. They are open from 8am to 2pm and are offering curbside contactless pick up of acai bowls, lattes, coffee, smoothies and juices.
Each year customers ask nursery growers for plants earlier and earlier in the season. Yes, purchase if you are worried about stock, but do not plant outdoors until after May 31st. Keep in a protected location and gradually acclimate to outdoor temps (hardening off*). In the old days, after Memorial Day was the standard rule of thumb for New Englanders. We’ve gotten away from that. It’s risky business to plant your annual flowers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as basil oregano outdoors too early, especially this year when we may have a snowfall this coming Mother’s Day weekend.
The following is a handy chart specifically for Cape Ann from the Farmer’s Almanac, although I would modify, ignore the frost date, and plant my warm weather seedlings closer to the June1st – June 5th Moon dates. The first date in each box is based on frost dates, the second line is based on Moon dates. Follow the Moon dates, especially this year when we are having an unusually cool spring.
*What does hardening off your seedlings mean? Think of it this way – seedlings are weaklings. They have delicate slender stalks that are easily blown over and their tiny tender leaves will freeze in a heart beat or shrivel in the penetrating sun of May. Seedlings need time to toughen up before planting out in the garden.
Hardening off is the practice of gradually exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Place plants in a protected area for a few hours a day, out of the way of wind and direct sun. On cold nights bring indoors to a garage, shed, or back inside. Gradually increase the plant’s time spent outdoors. Keep moist and don’t let the soil dry out. In a week or so you will see the stalk and leaves have visibly thickened. House plants and herbs that have been grown indoors all winter (essentially babied) will also benefit from hardening off if you are planning to move outdoors.
Starting Wednesday, May 6th Goombadi’s will re-open for take out, delivery & curbside pick up, with new hours. Monday-Friday 11:00am-7pm with our full menu available and Saturday & Sunday 7am-12:00 serving breakfast only! How You Do – In ?
Curbside Drive Thru Menu. 5/5/20
DRIVE UP AND ORDER
or Call 978-281-7707 for call ahead (phone lines open at 10am)
$15.00 1 lb. (Containers)
$15.00 2 lbs. Bags (Only $7.50/lb.)
Grey Sole Flounder
$20.00 2 lbs. Bags (Only $10.00/lb.)
Under 1.25 lbs. $7.00/lb.
1.25-1.99 lbs. $7.50/lb.
2 lbs. and up $7.50/lb.
“Culls”(one claw lobsters) $6.25/lb.
Cash and Credit Card accepted.(We bring card reader to you)
LOCATED AT 37 ROGERS ST. GLOUCESTER MA 01930
Super simple and delicious, our son Alex made an appetizer of Scallop Ceviche with Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester scallops several nights ago.
Alex’s Scallop Ceviche Recipe
1 lb. sea scallops completely submerged in fresh lime juice
Dice 1/2 large white onion. Soak in a bowl with ice water to the reduce bitterness.
Dice 1 garden fresh tomato, 1 jalapeño, and cilantro to taste
Strain the onions.
Strain scallops but leave 1/4 of the lime juice.
Gently fold all ingredients. Add cubed avocado just prior to serving.
Starting May 15, our website will feature all the warm weather vegetable, flower and herb seedlings that we’ll be releasing from the green house later that week. This will be your first chance to scroll through the bounty and fill your online shopping cart!
We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the week, then opening for pre-scheduled pick-ups beginning May 22. You can schedule your preferred pick-up day when you checkout online. Call us from your mobile at 978-471-9979 when you arrive at the farm on your selected pick-up day, then pop the trunk and we’ll gently place your garden treasure right in for you to take home and plant, no in-person transaction or contact required!