By Lauren Diggin.
Owner Minh Tieu works closely with Chef Bill Will to bring foods from near and far to Fairhaven.
During the pandemic, the restaurant industry has seen a steep downward trend, with falling revenue a best-case scenario for many eateries. In September, CBS Boston reported that, according to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, 20% of all Massachusetts restaurants had permanently closed. Sadly, many more restaurants have closed since last fall. However, despite this unwelcoming outlook, some new restaurants have decided to buck the trend and open during the pandemic.
Here is a look at four new spots around Southeastern Massachusetts that have safely braved the economic environment to offer area residents tasty food and tantalize their palates. While the owners’ stories differ, their collective ambitions and dreams are inspiring; and these new beginnings give us hope.
TRAVELER’S ALEHOUSE: Global Cuisine in Fairhaven MA
Minh Tieu has lots of experience opening restaurants. In December, Minh opened Traveler’s Alehouse in Fairhaven, the first restaurant he’s actually owned, though he has opened many others.
Minh got his start at the Mattapoisett Chowder House (now closed) and worked for other eateries through the years, often helping to open new spots. He worked at Barrett’s Alehouse for about a decade and opened their additional locations on the South Coast and Bridgewater areas.
“In December of 2019, even though I had no job, I woke up one day and decided to open my own restaurant,” said Minh. A few months later Massachusetts was in the grip of COVID-19. Other than the many delays, Minh didn’t find an opening during a pandemic different from opening in normal times.
Why international Food?
Mihn’s concept for Traveler’s Alehouse is to bring people together to enjoy food and drink from around the world. And, to celebrate and explore different cultures, whether that’s a culinary journey close to home or actual travels and adventures across the globe.
The menu features dishes from around the US and beyond. Starters include Spring Rolls, Caprese Tenderloin, and Fat Tuesday Fish Tacos. The sandwich section, called Carry-Ons, features a Portuguese Burger, Bahn Mi, a Reuben, and the Traveler’s Philly Bomb. Entrees range from Chicken Wellington to Voodoo Pasta to Pho. The menu also offers soups, salads, seafood, and pizza.
There are no Vietnamese restaurants in the area, so the Vietnamese dishes have been an introduction for many locals. Two of them, spring rolls and Pho, were soon among the most popular menu items. Traveler’s Alehouse uses locally sourced fresh herbs, vegetables, and seafood whenever possible. Minh knows the local scalloping scene well; his father is a long-time scalloper. Seafood is also sourced from New Bedford’s Northern Wind Seafood. “My mom is a great gardener, and we use her Thai basil,” added Minh. (Minh shared their recipe for Sweet Herb Scallops with us.)
Traveler’s Alehouse offers 24 draught lines with many Massachusetts and Rhode Island choices. They also serve their house-made sangria, margaritas, and rum punch, as well as prosecco, on draught. A house-blended scotch adds to the libation list.
Minh has taken many precautions to keep customers safe, some of which he planned before the pandemic due to his own seasonal allergies. Phillips UVC germicidal lamps are installed throughout the restaurant and sanitize the building overnight. Air purifiers are placed around the space using both HEPA filters and UVC light. An EPA-certified antimicrobial protectant is used on surfaces, including walls, doors, tables, booths, and chairs. He also rigorously trained staff on health and safety requirements.
Minh feels fortunate he chose a large space with room to spread out, and that so many customers have come in or ordered takeout. Minh plans to expand the menu with more global dishes as time goes on.
111 Huttleston Avenue
Fairhaven, MA 02719
Other restaurants in this series opened by brave folks: Early Bird in Kingston, Traveler’s Alehouse in Fairhaven, Alba on 53 in Hanover, and Lady C&J Cafe in Brockton.
Lauren Diggin has supported local restaurants during the pandemic through take-out and outdoor dining. Post-pandemic, she plans on a lot less cooking and a lot more table service. Lauren enjoys her Pho tinged slightly red from Sriracha sauce.