COVID-19 Could Be ‘Armageddon’ for Small Businesses

Photos by Holli Banks.

In a business sector that’s famed for its tight margins, the owner of Olde Magoun’s Saloon is not mincing words about how bad things are right now. In fact, Greg Coughlin has one word for it: Armageddon 

“The current situation is dire for the restaurant industry in Boston and Somerville,” Coughlin says. “Most restaurants won’t survive this. In my opinion, many restaurants will not ever reopen if the reopen date is in April as currently scheduled. And, if it’s a June reopening date, I believe less than 50 percent will be able to withstand the financial beating.”

Olde Magoun’s is doing what it can to keep doing some business during the pandemic, while also supporting its employees. The restaurant is accepting takeout orders and offering curbside delivery from 4 to 9 p.m. daily, and Coughlin is looking into a way to make a weekend brunch menu work “to keep us afloat and keep our customers well-fed,” he says.

“With the community supporting us in this way and ordering food for pick-up, it really goes a long way for supporting our restaurant and our staff to help give them an income,” he says.

In order to help his staff, Coughlin has set up a GoFundMe page for customers who want to make donations that will go to the employees of Magoun’s and his other restaurants, Blackmoor Bar & Kitchen and LongCross Bar & Kitchen. Anyone who donates at least $50 will receive a gift card for half that amount, to use when the restaurants are back to normal operations.

In Coughlin’s opinion, one of the biggest hurdles is a lack of planning at the government level for how to support small businesses like his during such a crisis.

“Speaking as a small business owner, there is no concrete plan or legislation enacted to help small businesses in the current health pandemic situation, especially the restaurant hospitality industry,” Coughlin says. “No one is helping us—the banks aren’t working with us to defer loan payments, insurance companies are refusing to pay claims and following this, the market is bound to tank when the banks foreclose on many properties.


For customers who miss coming into Olde Magoun’s, Greg Coughlin also offers up a cocktail recipe to enjoy at home:

The “Hot Damn” Margarita 

2 oz. ghost tequila 
1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes 
3/4 oz. cucumber simple syrup 
3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice 
Orange garnish with cinnamon spice mix 


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