April 20, 2013

Some Maine businesses say lockdown means doubt

Seafood suppliers and others with patrons in Boston find it’s tough to operate when ‘who the heck knows what’s going to happen.’

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Browne Trading Co. on Commercial Street, which supplies fresh seafood from all over the world to dozens of Boston restaurants daily, sent its delivery truck south Friday even though Boston was locked down.

Whether Boston restaurants would be able to open Friday night was an open question when the truck hit the road. Boston officials had asked all businesses to remain closed until the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had ended.

"My personal assumption is there will be very little need for fresh seafood tonight in Boston," Nick Branchina, director of marketing for Browne Trading, said Friday morning. "We have no clue if they're going to get into town. We have no clue if they're going to be received at the restaurants.

"We're just doing our best from a customer service perspective to do what was already set up last night, which was to leave this morning. This is moving so fast, who the heck knows what's going to happen?" Branchina said.

By the afternoon, Branchina had gotten word that the driver had made it into Boston, and made a full round of deliveries to about 14 restaurants.

Branchina said the bombings could have a longer-term impact on Boston's restaurants. After Sept. 11, 2001, New York City's restaurant industry saw 12 to 24 months of a major downturn in business, which in turn affected Browne Trading's business.

"I think Boston will do everything in its power as a community to get that city back up and running," he said.

New Meadows Lobster in Portland, which ships live lobsters, said it had a shipment of lobsters stalled in Boston on Friday because of the city's lockdown.

"There's quite a bit of disruption," said Matt McAleney, general manager of New Meadows Lobster.

New Meadows' shipments to Boston are transferred to other trucks or airlines for transit to customers. Because of Friday's lockdown, workers who transfer shipments between trucks or cargo sites couldn't get to work because public transportation in the Boston area was halted and the trucks couldn't move.

UPS posted a statement on its website Friday saying it would have no pickups or deliveries in Boston or the surrounding suburbs.

Regional analysts said they expected commerce in the Boston area to be disrupted during the lockdown, but only temporarily.

"The economy doesn't shut down completely," Jim Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Global Insight in Philadelphia, told Bloomberg News on Friday. "A lot of activity that would've taken place today takes place tomorrow or Monday."

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

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