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Forty Years of Milk Street Cafe: Our Story

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

We wouldn't be here without you.

Funfetti birthday cake covered with rainbow sprinkles on a white cake stand. Topped with gold candles and pink chocolate squares.
Photo by Jayna Kropas

Today, we celebrate 40 years of Milk Street Cafe. 40 years at 50 Milk Street, 40 years of serving the best companies, universities, and hospitals in the Boston area. We would never have gotten to this point without your continuous support since day one.

Fresh out of college, the then 23-year-old, Marc Epstein, had a vision to open up an entirely Kosher establishment in the heart of downtown Boston. With support from his parents and several investors, Marc had all of the resources he needed to make his dream become reality. He opened our doors on November 21, 1981.

Owner of Milk Street Cafe, Marc Epstein, on opening day in 1981 with his parents, Anita and William.

Bob Elder was the original developer of 50 Milk Street, and he wanted to provide his tenants with excellent service and delicious food. He took a chance on Marc and did everything in his power to insure the success of Milk Street Cafe. Bob was always proud of the cafe and continued to mentor Marc even after he sold the building.

The Cafe at 50 Milk Street was a huge success and Marc expanded to open other locations in Kendall Square, Longwood Galleria, the Park at Post Office Square, and Wall Street, New York. With the help of Norman Leventhal, Milk Street Cafe had the privilege of operating in Post Office Square for 17 years.

Though our menu today is incredibly diverse, with everything from breakfast and hot entrees, all the way to our unique sushi rolls, we did not start out that way. Milk Street Cafe started out as an entirely vegetarian cafe, inspired by VeggieCorp in the CitiCorp Center in New York City. It wasn't until 1989 when Marc made the decision to expand our menu to include meat and start a corporate catering business. Keeping with strict Kosher guidelines, that meant we had to expand our kitchen space to keep up with production. You wouldn't know it from the size of our Cafe, but the lowest level of 50 Milk Street has 10,000 square feet of space to accommodate three completely separate kitchens. One for dairy, one for meat, and one for parve, or neutral, items. And since day one, Milk Street is proud to say we've been donating any leftover food to local shelters and food banks in the Boston area, ensuring that nothing goes to waste.

Times have not always been easy for us, though. In March 2020, we were hitting record breaking sales. Business was better than ever, but the threat of covid was looming. In a matter of 48 hours, everything came to a screeching halt with no end in sight. With federal subsidies, we were able to reopen briefly in the fall, but it wasn't until August 16, 2021 that we were prepared to fully reopen and give it everything we had. Three months later, we are slowly returning to business as we knew it before the pandemic— and we couldn't have done it without the support of our loyal customers and the Boston community.

The future of Milk Street (and 200,000 other restaurants) remains to be uncertain and we need all the help we can get to Replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. But for now, we are proud to be celebrating 40 incredible years here at 50 Milk Street. Thank you, Boston.


The Milk Street Cafe Family


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