Business Profile: Variety aplenty at eclectic Bittersweet Co.

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Bittersweet's C.J. Dunne
C.J. Dunne, owner of Bittersweet Co., is doing what he can to ensure that his Main Street cafe/tapas/wine bar makes it through the pandemic. PHOTO/MICHELLE SANFORD

Like so many small business owners, C.J. Dunne is working hard to keep his doors open.

To say the last 18 months have been difficult for him would be an understatement. In early 2019, he moved Bittersweet Co. to a larger space next door and was closed much longer than anticipated, reopening in early 2020. Then the pandemic hit, changing the restaurant industry for owners and customers.

Dunne rolled with the punches and did what he could to stay afloat, offering takeout and curbside pickup. Eventually restaurants were allowed to offer outdoor dining, but that wasn’t feasible for Bittersweet.

“Not all of us have the layout for outdoor dining,” he explained. “The state needs to look at the future of dining.”

When Dunne received the green light for indoor dining, he took all the necessary safety precautions. He wants his customers to know that Bittersweet is completely COVID-friendly.

Inside dining areas are properly spaced apart, masks requirements are enforced, and vigorous sanitizing takes place daily. Takeout and curbside pickup continue to be available.

Nonetheless, Dunne said patrons are not coming out like they once did, because parts of town remain closed.

“The Town Hall is closed [although it recently reopened on an appointment-only basis]. The library is closed. There’s no foot traffic in the center of town anymore, greatly affecting business,” Dunne explained.

He’s hoping once summer vacations are over and school resumes, business will pick up.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the eclectic menu Bittersweet has to offer.

Open for breakfast, lunch and evening tapas, Bittersweet has a generous and fresh selection, and the atmosphere is relaxed and hospitable.

For breakfast, Bittersweet is known for its delicious, homemade scones, as well as breakfast sandwiches, eggs and other breakfast favorites. Flavored coffees are served hot or iced.

For later there’s cheese, veggie and meat boards, quiche, sandwiches and plates offering lettuce wraps, Korean veggie rolls, wings in a blanket and more.

Patrons enjoy a variety of fresh salads with one-of-a-kind monikers. The Stay at Home Mom salad features greens, feta, butternut squash, candied pears, Craisins and sesame balsamic dressing. Roasted eggplant bruschetta and chili beef sliders are just two of the tempting skillet dishes offered. Beer and wine are served. A catering menu has great options for special events.

Through it all, Dunne remains grateful to many.

“Especially my loyal customers who will never be forgotten,” he said. “And my patient landlord, Peter — the main reason I’m still open.”

Dunne even was the recipient of donated newspaper advertising space from Hopkinton real estate agent Kim Foemmel, who wanted to do her part to help another local business.

“That’s the sort of thing that goes on in this town, helping one another out,” said Dunne, visibly moved by the gesture.

Bittersweet Co. is located at 22-24 Main St. Call 617-840-9663, visit bittersweethopkinton.com or check the Bittersweet Facebook page for hours, menu and more.

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