To My Extended Family,
It is with deep sadness that I’m sending this email. After 34 years, Stellina is closing its doors. Next week is our last week, Tuesday Aug. 18 through Saturday Aug. 22. I’m hoping that many of you will make time to come celebrate our time together and have one last Chicken Marsala or Warm Tomato Salad or whatever your favorite dishes are.
The reasons we are closing will come as no surprise to anyone: the persistent presence of Covid19 and the limited seating required to keep people safely distanced make operating Stellina untenable.
Over the years we’ve withstood many challenges: new restaurants opening around us; the 2008 recession, the reputation of being an “old” restaurant. In every case, we’ve prevailed by sticking to our model of excellent service and the freshest ingredients in our innovative and/or traditional dishes.
But times are different. As Carrie Baker, beloved server for the last 24 years, told me, “It took a pandemic to bring us down”. It’s hard to persevere when you don’t know what the future will be like six months or a year from now.
That being said, I’d like to take this time to give a big shout-out to the Stellina staff. Most of you don’t know the people “behind the scenes” cooking your meals, so I’d like to tell you about them.
First is my late husband Frank, a multitalented guy who switched careers from psychology professor at BU to restaurant owner/chef. Frank had some formal culinary training, but learned most of his techniques from his mother (of course!)
Second, our two sons, who grew up in our restaurant, While David’s love and career is in printmaking, Mike has stayed at Stellina first as the youngest busser around, then waiter, bartender and front room manager and, for the last 15 years as co-chef with Marc Bouchard. His most recent contribution to our menu is homemade pasta, in all shapes, sizes and flavors.
Next, Chef Marc Bouchard, who joined Frank in the kitchen in March of 1987 and has been working his magic ever since. Like Frank, Marc is a self-taught chef whose curiosity has led to some of our best dishes (such as the pasta with avocado pesto currently on the menu).
Cesar Luna also started with us at the beginning, first as dishwasher and then as line cook, making our delicious bread among other things. His wife Elsa has been our busser since 2002. Together, they make a great team.
Oscar Alvarez joined us in 1990, first as a busser (he was dubbed by one server “Oscar the Bazooka” for his efficiency) and then as a cook, bread maker, etc.
Abel Rodriguez came in 1996, quickly rising from dishwasher to line cook and dessert baker. (When you come here next week be sure to save room for one of his desserts!)
Orlando Ruiz joined us in 2000; his brother Jeovany in 2007. They wear many hats at Stellina and are a joy to work with.
Carlos Urizar is Cesar’s nephew. He joined us as a teenager in 1993 and worked his way to sous chef before leaving to pursue other avenues, but luckily for us returned to our kitchen a few years ago.
Many of you know Luis Herrera, our general manager in the front of the house. All of us here have watched Luis grow from a 16-year-old newcomer 22 years ago to the competent, confident manager he is today. Over the years he bussed, waited tables, bartended and eventually took over the manager’s position. His self-taught knowledge of wine and “mixology” puts me in awe!
Lastly, the people who strive to make your dining experience perfect — the servers. These are the folks you know the best; you can put a face to a name. Miles and Valeria on the bar and floor; servers Claire, Kevin and Carrie filling in as managers when needed; and Maribeth and Samir: all of them professional and a joy to work with.
So, please come by to have one (or more) last dinner with us. I will be at Stellina every night next week to give a (pathetic excuse for) a hug to you all (elbow bump?). As my Authors’ Night cohost Dick Haley told me yesterday, “I was never much of a hugger, but when this is over I’m gonna hug everybody”. My thoughts exactly.
Make a reservation at 978-325-6290 or call our main number 617-924-9475 for takeout.
Thank you all again for enriching my life. Please take good care of yourselves.