The owners of another iconic Cambridge restaurant will soon say goodbye to customers, some of which have been coming to the location for over 64 years.
Struggling since the pandemic hit, Galt View Restaurant will serve its last meal on August 21 when owner Jamie Houghtling plans to officially close its doors.
Houghtling, who has owned the restaurant for the last seven years, says he saw his business cut in half when the pandemic hit. Then construction began on Coronation Boulevard, reducing access to their parking lot.
Limitations to how many were allowed to dine in the restaurant during pandemic restrictions contributed to the drop in customers.
Houghtling said they followed all the public health guidelines but simply couldn't bounce back.
Galt View, like many small businesses, didn't get any rent relief from the government during the first wave, when the worst lockdowns were happening, he added.
Located across the hospital, Houghtling also noticed a decline in health care staff coming in during the pandemic as well as visitors that would come from the hospital, as Cambridge Memorial put a temporary stop to visitations as advised by public health during that time.
Now inflation and a lack of availability in products from large box retailers are hurting his business even more.
"It's almost like a black hole of small businesses. You drive up to big guys and they have lineups out the door," Houghtling added.
On top of that, the land the building sits on has been up for sale for the last couple of years. And just this year, they confirmed they had a buyer who plans to redevelop the land a year from now.
The new owners told Houghtling that he can continue his lease with them for another year until they tear it down, but they wanted more money than what he was paying now, and with the business already struggling "it just wasn't an option," he says.
"There is no reason to stay on knowing it's going to get torn down at one point," Houghtling said in an interview with CambridgeToday.
After they shut down on August 21, Houghtling will most likely continue his catering business and he's thinking of looking for a new location but isn't sure at the moment if he can save up enough money to do it again.
Some patrons over the years will be what Houghtling misses most, as he takes with him a print of the restaurant from artist Joe Forte and books with characters' names inspired by the staff at Galt View, written by local writer Lauren Dawn Davidson.
"It's been an icon in the community for decades," Houghtling says. "Most of the people coming now are asking where to go, they don't know what to do."
The building that houses Galt View has been a fixture on Coronation Boulevard for decades, first opening up as a motel in 1952.
A couple of years later, a frozen custard booth opened at that same location, and then in 1965 it was converted into a restaurant called Moffat’s Drive Inn.
Information provided by the City of Cambridge Archives says in the '70s it was called Galt View Coffee Shop and by the '90s new owners referred to it only as Galt View Restaurant.
Local artist Joe Forte has been coming to this location for 64 years and remembers when it used to be Moffat’s Drive Inn Restaurant, which he says served Kentucky Fried Chicken.
"I think 90 percent of the clientele in here have been coming in here for a long time," Forte says. "It was a little wee place that became massive."
He remembers when it became a motel and he lived in it for a couple of years. Then watched as the building changed into Galt View Restaurant. He became a regular patron over the years, often stopping by in the days before he became famous for his drawings.
"It's kind of devastating," Forte says. "Everybody is going to be sad. We have all been coming in here for so long."
Forte says on any given weekend you can find the same people here because they feel like it's their "home away from home."
"Some people come every Sunday, they never miss it. It's the food, it's the people, why would you go anywhere else," Forte says.