Community hub Haley House Bakery Cafe is temporarily closing its doors in order to “review and renew” its business concept as it moves into 2019. The Haley House executive director cited “unsustainable losses” due to economic and social changes in the Roxbury neighborhood as the impetus for the hiatus.
“When we first opened, there weren’t as many food options in Dudley but today, there are several other restaurants in the area,” Executive Director Bing Broderick explained. “Options are a good thing! But there hasn’t been a significant increase in population and so we’re all competing for the same customers.”
The board will use the temporary closure as an opportunity to to generate "fresh ideas" for the cafe's business concept. “This will permit us to move forward with a more economically sustainable model,” Broderick said in a phone interview on Friday. “The goal is to reopen restaurant operations later in the year.”
Broderick said the Haley House Board of Directors voted unanimously for the temporary closure of its restaurant operations beginning on Saturday.
Although the cafe itself will be closed, Haley House will continue its catering and wholesale bakery operations, along with its Take Back the Kitchen program, a cooking and nutrition program serving the community, including youth and previously incarcerated individuals. Haley House will also host the 11th annual Souper Bowl Fundraiser on Feb. 10.
Haley House Bakery Cafe was established in 1966 and has far reaching roots in community activism in its native Roxbury. It began as a shelter and food kitchen for homeless men living on the streets of Boston and eventually grew to operate more than 100 units of housing for people transitioning out of shelters. By 1996, Haley House opened its full service soup kitchen, one of the only ones in the Boston area at the time. When Haley House opened the doors of its current cafe space in Dudley Square in 2005, it became a place that served much more than warm meals.
“When we first opened we were just putting food out,” Broderick told WBUR. “But slowly, members of our community came to us to ask if they could use our space. That’s what really defined us as a cultural and community hub.”
The cafe currently hosts a number of community programs including newly appointed Boston poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola’s House Slam, Nina La Negra’s "Art Is Life Itself" radio program and other community centered events.