When COVID-19 hit the world hard last March, MIDA, a restaurant in Boston’s South End, US, was one among many businesses that had to shut down. The restaurant shifted operations towards takeaways and deliveries. But from initiating pasta drives to boosting funds for workers and supplying thousands of lunches for hospital workers, MIDA has stayed active. Recently MIDA expanded to a second location in Newtonville, surely an achievement during the challenging times.
Douglass Williams, chef, and owner of MIDA spoke to Boston Public Radio on June 7, 2021, about what the beginning of the pandemic seemed like for his business and the rest of the restaurant industry.
Williams, who was named one among 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2020, had to crack open his recipe books and rethink dishes when MIDA had to shift to takeout and delivery, he said.
“I adore to call it re-engineering, that’s really what we’ve done with tons of the food,” he said. “Starch especially is one thing that’s very difficult to travel well, but I just went back to my recipes and checked out portion size, heating directions, and worked it out.”
Williams reflected on lessons learned throughout the pandemic that he’ll continue to integrate into his businesses.
“We’ve really improved our training processes and [realized] that not everyone is going to walk in and be a great server immediately,” he said. “We have to put in a lot of dedication and energy into people who are coming in needing a job and we need to have open arms and ask them to come in, be part of the family, and make a career out of this.”
MIDA may be a Black-owned restaurant, and Williams hopes that folks are conscientious about spreading their resources across all businesses.
“It’s about local discovery and about spreading out what you are doing, where you are doing it, how you are doing it, and who you are doing it with,” he said. “Spread out your resources when you’re trying to offer them to entertain yourself or nourish yourself.”
This story is truly inspiring and sets an example in the restaurant industry.