This post was last updated on Apr 22, 2020.
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A little over a month ago, Luca Laurentia and their wife, Deborah, were looking at restaurant and bar spaces around Boston. They’ve been actively working towards the dream to open a queer bar and cafe, to be called Little Butchie’s. The couple hopes to create a queer space where everyone feels welcome, to join the ranks of iconic Boston-area LGBTQ+-friendly restaurants like Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Delux Cafe.
Part of Luca and Deborah’s dream is to use some of their restaurant’s profits to benefit the LGBTQ+ community. “Profits from the bar will fund local non-profits who focus on the LGBTQ+ community – especially supporting QTPOC, LGBTQ+ refugees, and our homeless queer family,” Luca and Deborah explain on their website.
Luca and Deborah have been taking steps to bring this dream to fruition for months now. Little Butchie’s introduced themselves to the community in the fall of 2019, with a pop-up event with music, drinks, and a drag show called Little Butchie’s Big Hello. The event was wildly successful, and their following on Instagram grew. They threw a cocktail workshop in December and continued with other pop-up events earlier this year.
But as COVID-19 began to spread at an alarming pace and began threatening the whole restaurant industry, their plans — and their pop-up events — were brought to a halt. “We're putting Little Butchie’s on pause at the moment,” Luca told us. “We’re seeing how we can use our efforts to support our industry friends that already are up and running and have lost all their income.”
They’re using the Little Butchie’s Instagram linktree to link to the United States Bartenders' Guild relief fund, and crucially, they’re taking the time to repeatedly call their representatives. In terms of securing Little Butchie’s future, and the future of the industry as a whole, Luca is focused on government aid. “What will affect us more is not necessarily the virus itself, but the government's action or inaction to support businesses,” said Luca.
Restaurants have been there for us, and we need to be there for them.
In terms of government aid, the CARES Act has now passed, and restaurant owners are learning what the Act will mean for their businesses, how much it’ll be able to help, and when. For more information on the CARES Act, SBA Loans, and Disaster Loans, check out the Government Aid section of the Rally for Restaurants website.
One of the best ways to help, and one of the ways that Luca is working to keep the industry afloat, is by calling their elected representatives. “Our next step forward is continuing to call our Members of Congress, and mayors, and the governor. Voicing that the restaurants need the support.”
Despite this scary and unpredictable environment, Luca is as committed to their plan as ever. They’re a graphic designer by trade, but they’ve worked in restaurants and bars on and off for ten years. “I really, really prefer working in the industry,” they told us. “I like being on my feet, talking to people, doing things with my hands. I feel the most at home when I'm in a restaurant or bar.”
I really, really prefer working in the industry. I like being on my feet, talking to people, doing things with my hands. I feel the most at home when I'm in a restaurant or bar.
The plan for now is to keep pushing for aid, and when things return to normal and gatherings can resume, they’ll get going on the pop-up events that had been driving momentum for Little Butchie’s. Then, Luca and Deborah will start looking for a space again. “Once we're free to do so, we’ll continue on the path that we were on and try and get our brick and mortar,” they told us.
At Little Butchie’s, Luca plans to bartend and do prep, and Deborah will handle all the baking and events management. They have a friend who’s ready to join their team as kitchen manager. The space will be a cafe by day and bar by night, with art shows, concerts, drag shows, and a community-first vibe.
“Food is love, and food is community,” said Luca. “It's where you go to celebrate. If you’re going to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, where do you want to go? It's not ‘what do you want to do’ — we know we're going out to dinner. It’s ‘where do you want to go?’ Restaurants have been there for us, and we need to be there for them.”