ONCE Somerville and Cuisine En Locale will not re-open following the COVID-19 pandemic


ONCE Somerville announced today (November 25) that their venue and lounge, as well as Cuisine En Locale, will not re-open following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cuisine en Locale is going out of business, and the space we call the ONCE Lounge and Ballroom will not re-open,” reads the announcement made by ONCE founder and proprietrix JJ Gonson.

Like all venues, ONCE was forced to shutter its doors earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic reached American soil. The Highland Avenue performance space has remained closed since March, but actively held online shows via its Virtual Venue, which launched in late April. The Virtual Venue will continue to broadcast livestreams of live music while Gonson seeks a new home for ONCE.


Despite receiving funding via a GoFundMe campaign and COVID-19 relief money, the statement explains that revenue remained at less than 20 percent of what it was prior to the pandemic, which was not sustainable.

“The event space we call ONCE is leased by my locavore catering company, Cuisine en Locale,” Gonson adds. “Everyone worked for CeL. When COVID hit, and business stopped entirely, so many people stepped up to help ONCE/Cuisine en Locale to raise money through a GoFundMe campaign kept the venue going for a few months, made it possible to pay people and prevented us from having to immediately lay off all of the staff. That was amazing! Right around when that ran out, we received some COVID relief funding. We used all of it carefully and wisely, but those funds have run out now, and there is no additional aid in sight. Cuisine en Locale and ONCE, in separate ways, have pivoted and created and tried to hang on to our space as long as possible, but with revenue at less than 20% of what it was pre-pandemic, without the ability to gather in person for events and without government aid programs substantial enough to sustain our physical operations, we are left with no choice. We can’t hold on until we are able to re-open.”

ONCE Ballroom and Lounge is the latest Boston-area venue to announce it will not re-open after the COVID-19 pandemic. It joins Bull McCabe’s and Thunder Road in Somerville, Jamaica Plain’s Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way LoungeThe Cantab in Cambridge, and Allston’s Great Scott and Wonder Bar on the growing list of rooms that have become casualties of the coronavirus and our inability to respond to it and get it under control.