AND THE BEAT GOES ON…

Written by  ,     June 22, 2023     Posted in Uncategorized

Stones Social: Good News, Bad News.

Bad news first? Stones Social, our baby, is now “permanently” closed. I wake regularly with the wish that “closed temporarily” was the message, my natural excitement and energy truly remains to drive this thing forward and create the success I know that this concept would ultimately achieve. Quickly, those thoughts turn back to the more sobering; “Plath, get over it” and “It’s time.”

When business and life was booming, back in 2019, Stones Social was set in motion after countless hours (years!) and dollars invested in it’s creation; the culmination of industry observation and research, creative focus, meetings, consultations and consultants, and incredible excitement for having solved for “x”; x being the direction our industry was headed; life after the burrito; lighter, faster, more fun, more social, less serious, less “intrusive” (as one millennial defined service in full service restaurants!) Team service, bar-centric, great pick-up options, the best music, simple and quick but still excellent scratch food and beverage. Thank you to all you operators out there who helped inspire the concept, from Chicago’s Au Cheval, to NYC’s The Meatball Shoppe, to that dive bar in New Orleans with couches and shuffleboard! Oh, we got this.

Back then my greatest trepidation in opening a 3rd restaurant was in the knowledge that I could not do so on my own—to the level of my own expectation—given my skill set. The reason we went forward at the time was that we had found a great Director of Operations and had teams of managers and trained staff—to complement with physical energy, organizational skills and financial acumen. I even hedged this bet, choosing a small location with minimal risk as a beta site, and a shortened lease with options. I had (and still have!) no doubt that in 3 years, we’d have gotten our money out, and would be now be planning bigger and better with more locations to launch.

And then the pandemic struck, and my worst-case scenario played out.

The worst of the news is not the time nor money lost. It was absolute fun, until it wasn’t. The greatest disappointment is in knowing that a great concept was derailed, that the fun instead turned to burden and that those great many folks who have supported us for the past (3) years will now be disappointed. That makes me the saddest of all.  Soo many people had shared in this vision…or had to sit through my excited babble describing our genius and ultimate vision.

The good news!?

We leave Stones Social (for now anyway J ) knowing how truly great it could have been, no doubt. We didn’t choose the right location perhaps, nor the pandemic. But as one of my (3) incredibly intelligent daughters said recently, “This is not an ending Dad, but a new beginning.” Prescient. We are indeed making a choice—a quality of life decision that will allow better focus on our two other restaurants, Cobblestones in Lowell (30th year) and Moonstones in Chelmsford (16th year), while continuing to rebuild them to the excellence they have enjoyed for many years. “Opportunity cost.” One of my other daughters said a year ago, as she (mostly) retired from the restaurant business after more than a decade: “The restaurant business used to be fun.” I felt her pain as we navigated those incredibly rough waters, with (3) restaurants and a fraction of the resources, for the past (3) years as we avoided worst case scenario. We will pay our debts and hold onto the fond memories. We will remain forever grateful to our daughters, and the numerous valued staff and family, who helped to save us at the hardest of times—allowing us to get to this present place of clarity and excitement for what the future holds, and who continue to be our light and inspiration—the good people that regularly surround us with positivity, kindness, friendship, solutions, hard work and hospitality in our day to day. We could not be more fortunate and thankful.

Comments

13 Responses

  1. Lisa Thurston says:

    So sorry to hear this, having known your passion and dreams for this concept and location, you have our support always for the great establishments and culture built at C and M, and perhaps this phoenix will rise again! One can always hope….

  2. Christi & Neil says:

    OMG! This makes me so sad! Neil and I will miss having our Date Nights there terribly, and will totally miss the staff (and the perfect Painkillers) immensely!! We wish each and every one of you nothing but the best things that life has to offer you!!

    • admin says:

      You two defined the term “regular!” We will miss you every Friday afternoon. Thank you so much for your loyalty while we lasted and please take care.

  3. julie akers says:

    I am so very sad to hear this news!! My husband and I have been to Stones Social for countless dinners and weekend lunches since you opened. Our son had his first (legal) beer there on his 21st birthday. We always loved your food, music, vibe, service and friendliness. We are so sad you have closed. One good thing is that our son has moved to Lowell so when we visit him we can all eat at Cobblestones.

  4. Taylor says:

    I’m so sad!!! I honestly would’ve gone wayyy more because I LOVED the pizza but it was only on Thursdays for a long time. It was literally the best around. So sad to hear this. Best burger and buff chix fingers 🙁

  5. Bill Tyers says:

    Stones was all class. The staff, The food and drinks (unique in flavor and prep. DELICIOUS!! We will miss it. Starting with a shutdown was an incredible hurdle. Location might have been a problem as well. Everything blends together on the right side of Amherst Street heading west on that stretch of the road. Thank you for the time and effort you, your family and the staff put in. We lost a gem.

    • admin says:

      Thank you Bill. You have been a great supporter and always appreciate your perspective–and agree with everything you wrote, on behalf of the others. The beverage program created by my daughter–who had to balance 10+ years in the Chicago dining scene with a “simplified” perspective for the more local demographic of Nashua/Lowell was inspirational, the culinary genius of Chef Adam–who tweaked and tweaked to make “comfort” food recipes spectacular–and consistent, sill remain catalogued at the ready, and all the other touches, many that never actually got launched as we fought to keep all three restaurants above water for three years of struggle!! What a grind it’s been…

  6. Randy Richard says:

    Hey Scott, Stones Social was my go to for most of the 3 years it was open. Great concept and the staff you had the first couple years were really incredible people. I will miss seeing you on the occasional Wednesday night when you were in town. I’ll continue to visit your other locations.

    • admin says:

      Thank you Randy! We appreciate the support and kind words. Yes, we opened with some incredible people for sure. And, we had a couple “misses” haha. Please say hello when you see me next! (Assuming my head is swiveling and I miss you!).

  7. Night Skies says:

    Super sad you guys closed. I kept putting off bringing some friends. Just now found out you closed.
    I went with my boyfriend and it was not loud, the food was amazing, friendly/talkative staff, amazing drinks and appetizers.
    We made an amazing memory that night. I’m sad we can’t go back.
    My introduction to stones social was being stranded waiting for a tow truck on a hot day, and they let me come in and have a drink for free! (Ended up staying for lunch). It was so good I had to come back with someone special.

    Will very miss that place. I hope your other locations have the same vibe and excellent quality!!!

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