Kaler’s Crab and Lobster House will be reopening for 2021, owners Sam and Maddie Kaler announced unofficially at the end of March. After making the hard decision to close for a year due to the pandemic, the couple said they are ready to welcome staff back to the Kaler’s family and customers for a soft opening after Memorial Day weekend.
The Kalers said there was a point last May when they had a choice to open and decided against it for many of the same reasons other businesses decided not to open.
“Really, there were different variables,” Sam said. “My mother's a cancer survivor and she likes to work here and we didn't want anything to happen to her or any of the other staff or our customers.”
“A lot of staff have families and we're a family place, so it just felt safer to keep everybody away,” said Maddie.
Though closing was not easy, the Kalers said they were happy to see others find the wherewithal to open and serve the community and visitors the best way they could. Sam said it was encouraging to see most make out fairly well despite the economic downturn and it also taught others who could not open how to handle operations when they reopened.
“We’re changing our typical model and eliminating table service entirely,” said Maddie. “We’re focusing more on takeout-style so people can enjoy eating in the Whale Park or the waterfront park across the harbor. We'll also have tables inside to pick up your own food to eat.”
Other changes include a new digital menu which will be displayed on screens to the left down the stairs. Kaler’s will also have QR codes which, when scanned by mobile phone, will display the menu and give the option of ordering via mobile. Sam said the orders will go straight to the kitchen and the customer will receive an order number which will be announced and provided at a new takeout window.
“We … will need a new victualers license from the select board, first … But it’s less risk for transmission, less people around people,” said Sam.
“You know, you've already ordered and paid, so you're ready to go. Or stay – it keeps everybody safe and busy and fed.”
The inside is also undergoing some changes, the couple said. In addition to the altered layout for window service, Kaler’s will have a new bar-top with more spaced out seating. Sam said at 50% capacity, the most the restaurant could seat inside, not counting the bar, will be 10 tables of four. With that in mind, they settled on having picnic tables inside and outside on the dock, but they will also have larger tables ready to go should regulations lift and allow them to accommodate larger parties. Picnic tables will also line Kaler’s on the parking lot side for more outdoor seating.
A couple things that will not change are the famous “Cleat and Eat,” a dockside service Maddie said they plan to continue, and staffing; many of Kaler’s usual staff plan to come back, several of whom are students, said Maddie. “We're just trying to gear up for what we hope is a busy season for everybody. People are feeling better about getting vaccinated and wanting to sort of get back out, loosen up a little bit more.”
The couple said opening day will likely be a soft one, quietly announced on Facebook, so staff get a feel for the familiar but new atmosphere. Said Sam, “This is my 24th year doing this. My parents owned it, I worked here through college, I bought it years ago, and it’s going to be different. It might take a while … (but) we're making the best of it. And we are going to be so busy.”