Devens Grill announces closure

Two-year money struggle and other problems cited in email to customers

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DEVENS – A phone call to the Devens Grill will bring a tinge of sadness to customers when they hear the outgoing message.

“As of Sunday, May 31, we’ve made the difficult decision to close the business permanently. We tried very hard to make it work, but could not at the end. Thank you all for all that you’ve done to support us over the last two years and especially in the last two-and-a-half months. We’re very very grateful for all of you. We wish you all the very best, thank you very much.”

Co-owners Vivek and Rama Kamath, who have owned the restaurant since June 2018, also forwarded an email to its customers over the weekend. In that email, the Kamath couple described how they’ve “struggled” to run the restaurant and “have never been profitable.” The couple said revenue had been dropping 10% per year over the last two years, rent and operating costs were “significant” and the building itself was “deteriorating, in disrepair” and had “a poor maintenance record” before they took over.

“The pandemic was the beginning of the end as we reflect on it now,” the Kamaths said. “As many restaurants, we have lost thousands over the past few weeks… if I told you the numbers, you would cry. The government loans while well intended and unfortunately politicized have little to no value to restaurants, they are simply more debt in time of crisis. They did not help.”

The couple admitted to thinking about closing the restaurant in May after believing they’d lose another $100,000 in 2020, but they hoped to recover in the coming years. Unfortunately, an important employee the couple would not name resigned last week and reopening the restaurant to less than half their expected revenue was deemed “not a viable option.”

“We have lost nearly $1 million as a result of our decision and it changes our life calculus without a doubt,” the couple said in their statement. “Devens Grill was our retirement plan. Now, we face our own set of uncertainty. Failure is hard to accept. It really sucks to accept defeat, to be honest. We are truly sorry that we cannot have Devens Grill for you. We are sorry that we failed. We are sorry that we could not be strong enough to survive this very difficult business.”

Jessica Strunkin, executive vice president of Devens, said on Monday that she was “disappointed” by the closure while also acknowledging the “challenging economic climate.”

“The restaurant was an institution in Devens, not only as a warm and welcoming place to gather and eat, but also as an active member of our small but growing community,” she added. “As a patron of the Devens Grill, I’m saddened for owners Vivek and Rama and the rest of the team, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

Melissa Fetterhoff, president and CEO of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, said on Monday the Kamaths “will be missed” and noted how unique Devens Grill was to the community.

“It’s a great location for a restaurant,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of food establishments in Devens so there weren’t a lot of options. Devens Grill was right in the center of Devens. I hope another restaurant goes in that location.”