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The Pearl: Breaking bread and crab legs together in Dorchester since 2021

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The Pearl: Breaking bread and crab legs together in Dorchester since 2021

Banner Business Sponsored by The Boston Foundation


Located in South Bay Center in Dorchester, The Pearl provides the experience of entering a comfortable community corner bar that simultaneously offers handmade specialty cocktails, drinks and an elevated dining experience. This duality is what makes The Pearl seafood restaurant and raw bar an integral addition to the neighborhood, providing “southern hospitality with city sophistication.”

Luther Pinckney, who co-owns The Pearl with close family friends Mika and Malik Winder, entered the Boston restaurateur scene following a suggestion from his GM when working in the hotel industry. Noticing the need for a community space where the residents genuinely felt comfortable, Pinckney set out to develop The Pearl. Their Dorchester location provides this much needed communal space, pulling in customers from the neighborhood as well as the South End, Roxbury and South Boston. Having a safe space to connect with your friends, family and community is truly a privilege which Pinckney aimed to deliver to the neighborhood, stating that “breaking bread and building together over food and drink” have always been a part of his life.

Opening in 2021 following the initial impacts of COVID-19, The Pearl was designed in such a way that “people face and view one another,” pushing for memories to be made and connections to be cultivated. Pinckney envisions his restaurants as places to “meet old and new friends,” a beautiful snapshot of what small businesses can provide to their communities.

This Black-owned small business is not only a space where you can stop by and see familiar faces from around the neighborhood, but you also receive a sophisticated dining experience filled with innumerable seafood plates, as well as the restaurant’s specialty: char-grilled oysters topped with garlic parmesan butter.

As a Black restaurateur in Boston, Pinckney views his role as a “great honor and responsibility,” stating that the city has seen better days with respect to Black-owned dining options. According to a 2021 Bay State Banner article by Katie Mogg, during the pandemic, Black-owned restaurants were “almost twice as likely to close during the pandemic.”

Following the initial shutdowns and effects of 2020, Pinckney and his partners decided their community needed some inspiration, opening The Pearl in late 2021. He speaks to this community-centered mindset that has made this all possible, stating that they aim to “help and inspire anyone who wants to get involved.” While The Pearl is a prime example of a successful Black-owned business in Boston, according to Pinckney, they are “more closely criticized” as the community has high expectations for the establishment.

Not only have Pinckney and his partners created an amazing community space where culture can thrive, but they have also nurtured a successful, lucrative business in the process. Pinckney’s one piece of advice to Boston restaurateurs is “do it for yourself and the culture but remember it’s a business first.” He aims to shatter those expectations not only at their South Bay location, but also with the opening of The Pearl at Boston Landing this spring. With this opening, Pinckney aims to not only grow the brand, but also “help the city regain venues for our community.”

Stop by The Pearl at South Bay Center every day but Monday beginning at 11 a.m. to grab a bite of Boston’s premiere seafood. And keep an eye out for the grand opening of their Boston Landing location later this spring!

black business, business, Dorchester, South Bay Center, The Pearl