Boston’s fifth biggest snowstorm on record was mighty enough to temporarily close down state roads, halt Harvard operations, and postpone the freshman formal this past weekend. But it did not deter Falafel Corner employee Ibrahim Souz, who voyaged out into the swirling snow to deliver a take-out meal to a hungry customer on Friday night.
Falafel Corner, which served Middle Eastern cuisine until 3 a.m. Saturday morning, was among several businesses in Harvard Square that decided to brave the weekend’s blizzard. Despite warnings from local and state authorities, some stores ran operations into the wee hours of Saturday morning. More chose to re-open on Saturday morning or afternoon.
For the eateries that stayed open, business as usual in a mostly shuttered Harvard Square meant big crowds and unusual challenges.
“We were crazy busy because no one else was open,” said Falafel Corner owner Ahmed Naguib. “We really sacrificed a lot to be here and especially do deliveries.”
Felipe’s Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant in The Garage, stayed open until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and resumed regular business hours at 11 a.m. on Saturday, sacrificing only five hours of its regular operations schedule to the blizzard.
“Felipe’s has been open for nine years now, and we have never closed early or opened up late,” said Thomas J. Brush, the restaurant’s co-owner. “We knew about [the blizzard] ahead of time, so we didn’t run out of ingredients or have any problems.”
Biswa Tiwari, a shopkeeper at Tommy’s Value, slept in the convenience store’s basement on Friday night to make sure that the store could keep its regular hours of 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Tiwari, like others who stayed open, said that his decision to continue operations during the blizzard was good for sales.
“I won’t give exact numbers, but we had a more than 50 percent increase in business,” Tiwari said.
Business was so good that other shops, such as convenience store CVS, were depleted of items by early Friday evening.
“It was a hundred times worse than Hurricane Sandy,” CVS store manager Bill Mahoney said. “Our shelves were wiped out. There was no milk, no bread, no chips, no anything.”
Despite high profits, several stores that chose to stay open were understaffed due to the traffic ban placed on the Commonwealth by Governor Deval L. Patrick ‘78.
Many store managers felt compelled to close before the ban went into effect at 4 p.m. on Friday so that workers could get home safely.
“We wanted to allow staff to get home safely and decided to play it safe,” said Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs owner Adam DiCenso, who shuttered his store early on Friday. “Once the ban was lifted, four of us were able to get the ovens running and get back at it.”
Businessowners said that their motivation to stay open—or re-open as early as possible—was ultimately to serve the public.
“It’s not all about the money and that,” Brush said. “Everyone was just so appreciative that we were open, and they were thanking us again and again.”
—Staff writer Michelle Denise L. Ferreol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @michiferreol.