Citing losses, Haley House shutting Roxbury bakery, laying off workers, but hopes for re-opening later in the year

Haley House is closing its bakery cafe off Washington Street in Roxbury on Saturday and laying off some workers, citing losses it "cannot sustain indefinitely."

However, the group says it will begin "renewal efforts" to figure out how it can re-open the outlet later in the year.

The non-profit, which focuses on food as a way to help individuals and their communities, says it will continue its catering and wholesale baking operations and its Take Back the Kitchen cooking program. It will also re-open the bakery cafe on Feb. 10 for its annual Souper Bowl Fundraiser.

In e-mail to supporters, Haley House cited changes in Roxbury for its decision to close the bakery cafe while trying to come up with ways to eventually re-open it:

Over the past several years, the surrounding neighborhood has experienced dramatic shifts in the economic, social, and commercial landscapes. Inevitably, these contextual changes have impacted Haley House Bakery Cafe’s business, resulting in losses that Haley House cannot sustain indefinitely.

Our renewal efforts will focus on the most productive way to continue serving the Roxbury community while building on the Cafe’s legacy of vibrant, community-driven programming and supportive employment opportunities. This break will provide an opportunity to pursue fresh ideas that best align the Cafe’s menu, operations, and programming with current community needs and permit us to move forward with a more economically sustainable social enterprise. A key component of this process will be soliciting input and support from our key stakeholders, including community residents, staff, and food industry experts.

Haley House said laid off workers will be paid through Feb. 1 and is working with the state to provide help with a job search and applying for unemployment.

This is the second retrenchment for Haley House. In the fall of 2017, it closed Dudley Dough, a profit-sharing pizza place it had opened in the Bolling Building in Dudley Square.



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Agreed, it’s not like there

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Agreed, it’s not like there are a ton of other cafes in that area. There’s Dunkin Donuts at the bus station.

Dudley Cafe in Boiling Building

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Could it be that it lost its customers to Dudley Cafe?? Dunkin has been there forever and was the only place willing to open in Dudley Square for a long time. Not a fan of Dudley Cafe...snooty help.

Not much actual gentrificaiton taking place in Dudley Square

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Aside from the School Department building, and a couple of eateries therein that have come and gone (including Haley House's Dudley Dough pizzeria), Dudley Square really hasn't gotten any better or worse over the last 25 years.

The Bartlett Station development down past the police station may have an eventual impact on housing, but phase I isn't even open yet.



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Okay, I live there and can be accused of being a gentrifier (and yet my income is lower to middle class). But - really where do you get your data that there's no gentrification?

Has rent gone up in the area? likely. Has property value increased? definitely. Are people with big money moving in? yes. Is this resulting in displacements? yes. Are students moving in? definitely.

Yes, right

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For at least the past couple of years now, brokers have been deluging homeowners around the square with offers to buy their houses. What happened in the South End and JP is now repeating itself there.

You're confused

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You might be talking about Highland Park, but if you think that a "repeat of the South End and JP" is happening in Dudley Square then you are certifiably off your rocker. Have you ever spent any time there? Better yet, outside of business hours? Please do indulge me and identify the streets "around the square" where the people with money are moving in. I won't hold my breath for your response.

I'm sorry reality doesnt quite match your outdated views ...

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On Roxbury development, but, yes, I have talked to people who live in the area, no, not right across the street from the bus stop, I'll grant you, but come on, Dudley Square just isn't that big.

But what do I know? Why not ask somebody who actually lives in Roxbury like, oh, Kim Janey?

Council to study how to hold back wave of gentrification now breaking over Roxbury.

Also, there is new development proposed for the square beyond just the Ferdinand Building. Really. Even aside from the proposed Dudley Square skyscraper, which doesn't seem to have advanced much beyond the filing of plans.

You sound like the people who looked at Downtown Crossing and said there were too many homeless people, high school students and criminals for it to ever become anything other than it was. And yet it's now one of the city's fastest growing neighborhoods. No, Dudley Square won't become changed overnight. But it is happening.


I live half a mile from

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I live half a mile from Dudley, am a gentrifier, and there are 6 construction sites within a block of my place, all multi condo buildings. And I rent because I could never afford to buy here.

Roxbury has a ton of vacant parcels, more than anywhere else in the city probably, due to wave of arson in the 80s perpetrated by racist slumlords trying to cash in before the Southwest corridor expressway project that never happened.

Their baked goods....

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Were also carried at Allendale Farms- had hoped expanding to other outlets would help them stay afloat.

If you...

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are really concerned about "losing this local place" you should consider that businesses that model themselves on meeting the needs of local people, as HH has, flounder when that population changes. Gentrification will not save what you love about your neighborhoods, only innovate them according to the plans of wealthy developers. You can help by participating! @reclaimroxbury


It isn't *my* local place

since I live 6 miles away, but it's a place I like to patronize when I'm in Dudley Square. I've been on a number of organized Roxbury bike rides that started and ended here.

Sad to see it go, but...

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...not surprised. They always seemed much more focused on their (admirable) nonprofit mission than on being good as a coffee shop. I went somewhat regularly for a few years but struggled to fall in love with it. The layout was crowded and cramped. The coffee was drip only, served from giant plastic vats. For a place that called itself a bakery, there weren't many baked goods and what they had was unexceptional. And although some of my friends disagree with me on this point, I was always disappointed in their hot food.

The thing is, all of that stuff is fixable. They did a great job with the atmosphere, and I kept going for a while because I liked the mission of the place. They made a strategic blunder with the pizza shop, which had some great menu items but was trying to be too many things at once without doing any of them to perfection.

Here's hoping they find a way to reopen and retool their menu so that the food and drink are as good as their mission. And given the shortage of restaurant employees around Boston, hopefully the staff are all working again before the end of the month.


I tried to get a catering order from them

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I called several times, emailed several times, and got no response. (This was the case with some other caterers, too.) Wound up calling Flour and got things without issue. (Our weekly lunch very often had Flour and we were told to try to diversify, but they were the only ones who would respond to queries reliably.)

The sins of Gentrification

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Are causing resentment among long term residents in the Dudley square neighborhood who stayed and toughed it out during the tough times and are now being forced out because of the rising cost of housing. The black middle class in Roxbury will soon be 'Gone Baby Gone"


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But many on here believe the longtime white residents in other neighborhoods, including some majority non-white neighborhoods, are standing in the way of 'progress', and if they can no longer afford, too bad about them.Many black people, like others, simply move to other cities and towns surrounding Boston. They do it for the same reasons as anyone else: better conditions, less expensive, better schools, etc.


You know what fuels that gentrification?

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In neighborhoods of color, it is elderly people dying without a will or without heirs who have any interest in keeping the property.

Check the sales databases to see how many of the properties are sold out of estates after people pass on - and where the heirs live.

How can we help?

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The community will rally together. I love HH as a place to bring out of towners, do work on my own, and have meetings. Let us know what we can do!

Their message is confusing

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The language is so evasive, not sure why they can't just say something plain.
Is it gentrification driving up rent? Drug users on Melnea driving away customers?
Or are they just running it badly and looking for sympathy by blaming mysterious evil forces?
The demographics of Roxbury haven't actually changed much in the last decade, so it's not obvious what "dramatic shifts" they're talking about or how it affected their business.