Happiness is like Jam, you cant spread even a little without getting some on yourself.
Think about it. Its June which is usually the season of outdoor dining, cocktails on rooftop bars, beach days, and the start of lots of barbecues. That all looks a little different this time around because the world as a whole is getting over a pandemic, one that completely changed everything as we know it. As things start to slowly open back up I have started descending on patio dining with a vengeance, but knowing it looks completely different this year and probably will for the next year or so. One of the first restaurants I had the pleasure of visiting the first week they opened back up for outdoor dining was Fuse Bistro in Lowell Massachusetts. Fuse is no stranger to me, I have been coming here for years for brunch, lunch, and dinner and have fallen in love with their firehouse residence in Downtown Lowell.
Here is a bit of history about Scott and Jacqui, the people behind this incredible restaurant.
After falling in love with the lively nature of the city and its people, Scott Pelletier opened up Fuse Bistro in 2011 in a gorgeous Firehouse located on Palmer St. Chef Scott is a California Culinary graduate and has worked in restaurants in Portsmouth since he was 15 years old. His favorite cuisines are French and Asian and many of his dishes are inspired by these cuisines. Fuse Westford opened up almost two years ago on September 21st, 2017 because people were clamoring for another Fuse. This also provides visibility to the brand for a different section of Massachusetts beyond the Merrimack Valley and gives them a taste of what we Lowellians have been experiencing for many years now. 🙂
Jacqui Brown, Scott’s partner, coordinates the front of the house at both locations and curates the seasonal cocktail menus and chooses the liquor and wine selections. She is working towards a sommelier certification and creates all cocktail ingredients from scratch. Jacqui started working in restaurants as a hostess and has learned all there is to know in both FOH and BOH positions throughout the years.
Fuse Bistro was one of the few restaurants that were open during the takeout only phase, and they decided to only have one location open during this time to keep a good handle on their inventory and labor costs. Jacqui shared with me that it was tough and they felt a little broken. When you go from working 50 hours a week to less than 20 it can be a hard pill to swallow, but they were happy to be spending extra time with their family and get some work done around the house.
Fast forward to their first week being open on the patio, they shared its been a rush of emotions. They feel incredibly lucky to have gorgeous patio space and that their customers have stuck by them through this time.
Their support and positivity is what keeps us going and why we love what we do.
They shared that they are in the same boat as many other others in the same industry and finding that support group within the industry has been so helpful and therapeutic. And tequila 🙂
On a personal note, it was incredibly difficult for me to see the small businesses in this community suffering and trying to adapt, many of them did it beautifully and I hope through stories like this we can connect with them even more and see that small business are the very thread of our communities.
Now shall we get down to food? Can I just say I was so happy to sit outside, enjoy a cocktail, and breathe in the fresh air? It felt different and that’s okay but I was happy to support a local business, eat some good food and continue on this journey that I love so much. Keep scrolling to see some delicious eats we scored and let me know your thoughts on outdoor dining.
I went out to Fuse with a couple of friends and we were seated at the far edge of the patio. We were spaced apart and practiced physical distancing while sharing the meal. We started with a couple of appetizers and then had a wonderful meal.
Baby Lettuces Salad w/ Chicken
Korean Steak and Cheese
Crispy Fish and Chips
L to R: Modelo, Extra dirty Martini, Pineapple Jalapeño Margarita
Crab Dip | herb toasted panko, crostini, kettle chips
Just had to get another shot of this dip
This sweet chili sauce with the calamari was goals
Fried Calamari | crispy pickles, lemon caper aioli, sweet chili sauce
Baby Greens Salad | organic greens, pickled carrots & beets, port plumped cranberries, candied walnuts, housemade cider vinegar dressing
Crispy Fish and Chips | house cut fries, lemon caper aioli
Korean Steak and Cheese | toasted roll, bulgogi marinaded steak, peppers & onions, pepper jack cheese, sriracha aioli; house cut fries, greens or sweet fries
It was a great experience, Fuse has all the proper restrictions in place including the following:
- Waitstaff wearing face masks
- Tables are wiped down and sanitized after patrons leave
- Tables are spaced at least six feet apart
- Paper menus
Tips for visiting Fuse:
- Make a reservation, while not required it is incredibly helpful.
- You can make reservations the day you will be dining after 3 pm
- Bring your mask and hand sanitizer
- Leave a good tip for your servers
I hope you all enjoy your outdoor dining and continue to be safe. Things are not back 100% and it is important to be kind to those around us and continue being supportive of our community. It is okay if you don’t feel comfortable dining at a restaurant, you can still support by ordering takeout (and maybe having an outdoor picnic with your family 🙂 ), buying a gift card and engaging on social media. Every little bit counts.
Sending love, good vibes, and peace to you all, its good to be back.
Life as a Maven