When Steven Piazza looks over the family business – which had existed at the Boston Market Terminal on Second Street in Everett since 1968 – he sees a bittersweet ending at the old facility, but a bright beginning across Market Street on the Chelsea side of the City Line.
The Boston Market Terminal sold to The Davis Companies in 2019 and has been permitted, with construction starting imminently, with the hopes of attracting a last-mile e-commerce tenant rather than the fruit and vegetable distributors that dominated the area for the last 50 years.
Steven Piazza, president and partner of the 80-year-old Community-Suffolk company – which has operated the Terminal since 1967 and had about six or seven tenants when they ceased operations over the last few months – said it isn’t the first move the Terminal has made over the years, and the company is trying to look on the bright side of things as they re-start by themselves.
“Boston Market Terminal was built in 1967 and 1968 and it sells wholesale produce,” he said. “It has been very successful until this past year and we sold to The Davis Companies, which is a first-class development firm,” he said. “There were probably six or seven tenants in the Terminal at the time of the sale, but all of the businesses have been relocated into Chelsea and Everett, except American Fruit Distributors, who retired. We started in Faneuil Hall and then to D Street in South Boston and then the New England Produce Center in Chelsea. Our business was flourishing in the 1960s and there wasn’t enough room at the Produce Center to go around and that’s what caused the Boston Market Terminal to be built.”
Now, Piazza said they have simply moved across the street, permitting a new state-of-the-art warehouse for themselves with Chelsea and now getting it built out and prepared for a re-start of the business – as well as a new way of doing things. That, however, doesn’t come without some feelings of loss for their old facility across the street that has become an institution for the critical food distribution infrastructure on the Everett/Chelsea line.
“It is bittersweet,” he said. “It was a luxury to have the proximity and space and the rail siding for all those years. We’re fortunate; we kept everyone employed during the pandemic. We’ve been able to keep things going with the odds against us and with most of the restaurants closed this past winter. We have now relocated to a state-of-the-art facility in Chelsea – really only about 500 feet from the old Terminal. The blessing here is it did drive us to get more efficient and we’re now state-of-the-art with food safety. Once we get everything figured out and situated we’ll be fine.”
The Boston Market Terminal is a critical infrastructure piece for the regional food supply, and many don’t realize the reach of the Terminal or the New England Produce Center nearby – and how essential it is and has been for so many years. Piazza said they have customers as far north as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and as far south as Connecticut – as well as everything in between.
They have customers as small as the bodegas in Chelsea, and the corner stores in Everett, to the large supermarkets like Big Y in Western Massachusetts and Hannaford Supermarkets throughout New England – as well as the Stop & Shop companies too.
The Terminal operates mostly when residents of Everett and Chelsea are fast asleep, which is probably why so few realize the importance of the industry in the area. Piazza said they start up daily around midnight, getting everything in and out as fast as they can. By noon or 1 p.m., their day is completed and everyone goes home just as massive deliveries of wholesale fruits and vegetables fan out across the region and into Canada for restaurants, supermarkets and retail stores.
Piazza said he is confident the old Terminal will be done first-class by The Davis Companies for last-mile or any other warehouse use. For them, the sadness of leaving the old place is replaced by the positivity of having a clean, new facility that will operate more efficiently and pinpointed – and just as the food industry begins to come out of the pandemic winter that shuttered so many Terminal customers.
“It was bittersweet for everybody,” he said. “Many tenants were here a long time, and especially when you’re over 50 you don’t want to learn something new. But we’re in a good place now and in a fantastic new facility.”