Concord’s In a Pinch Cafe seeks new owner

  • In a Pinch Cafe owner Sandy Chen works the register. Ben Domaingue Monitor staff

  • In a Pinch Cafe is looking for a new owner. Ben Domaingue / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/22/2021 5:47:56 PM

Longtime Concord eatery, In a Pinch Cafe on Pleasant Street, is looking for a new owner.

Sandy Chen, who purchased the business in 2012, is getting ready to retire with her husband and eventually visit her mother more in Taiwan.

“Usually I take two weeks to go back to Taiwan, but you can’t leave for two weeks unless you have someone really responsible to take over,” said Chen. Because of COVID “I didn’t go for two years, it’s rather difficult, and when I have a restaurant it makes it (even more) difficult.”

Chen feels a personal responsibility to ensure that In a Pinch lives on in her absence, even as she is attempting to sell the business. Located around the corner from Concord High School and near a cluster of state offices, the restaurant has developed a devoted following.

“Some people come every day, some of the customers come every day,” said Chen. “I feel like this is a very busy restaurant and we have a lot of regular customers [that] depend on us for lunch.”

Chen has spent the last decade giving the cafe her own spin. After purchasing In a Pinch, she has kept the entire menu intact, while adding much of her own influence on new items.

“I have a lot of the Asian ingredients [and] elements on the menu,” said Chen. “Right now, we have Chinese dumplings getting very popular.”

Chen has spent more than a decade building personal relationships with her customers.

“So they’re like a kind of family,” said Chen. “If they don’t show up one day, the next day we ask ‘what happened?’”

Chen is hoping to pass the restaurant along to someone who loves the job and who can handle the responsibilities of the cafe.

“You really need to like cooking and your customers,” said Chen. “I really put a lot of love into this business. We put a lot of responsibility, time and energy into this business.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on business for Chen, especially during the initial lockdown in March 2020.

“We were closed for three months around that time,” said Chen. Then with remote classes at the high school and state employees working for home, business wasn’t the same after reopening.

As life returned to normal patterns, many of Chen’s regular customers from the Concord Hospital and state offices have returned in person.

“Right now, every day, our lunches are packed,” Chen said.

Katie Lord-Smith, interior designer and former employee of In a Pinch, has built a strong relationship with Chen. Because of her love for In a Pinch, Lord-Smith offered to redesign the interior of In a Pinch for Chen for little cost.

“She gave me a $2,000 budget and we did a whole three-day redo,” said Lord-Smith. “I’ve stayed in touch with her since then.”

Lord-Smith hopes Chen can find a suitable successor for In a Pinch in the near future.

“It’s very nostalgic to me,” said Lord-Smith. “It’s a part of Concord, everyone knows the sandwich they love from In a Pinch.”




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