Sharing Tables and Killing It

Published by Chris Wangler - June 11, 2020.

Two legendary family-run businesses south of the closed-off part of Moody Street have their own recipe for outdoor dining success: work together and welcome back loyal customers.

“Right away we filled up,” said Lauren LaCava Bibbo of Shoppers Cafe at 731 Moody. “People are ready to come out. The response has been amazing.”

Three generations of Shoppers staff, from left: Paul LaCava, Micayla Rutledge and Lauren LaCava Bibbo. Micayla is Lauren's daughter and Paul is her grandfather.


Business has been so brisk that Lauren is asking people to book ahead, given the limited seating and COVID-19 rules.

Unlike many restaurants that suffered during the coronavirus, Shoppers did an impressive take-out business. This multi-generational business has been on Moody Street since 1937 and knows its customers.

When it came time to move outdoors, Shoppers knew what to do, having reopened its New Hampshire location three weeks ago.

Staff borrowed picnic tables and did a lot of the set-up work themselves. The result is an adorable “Shack Out Back” with 10 tables in the rear parking lot.

“They have a really cool new menu,” said South Side resident Katie Heang, who came for lunch with her boyfriend Keith Halley. “We’re happy everything is opening up and we can support a local business.”

Out front, Shoppers is sharing 7 tables with next-door neighbors Heidi’s, a beloved Waltham breakfast destination.

Heidi’s uses the same tables until 3:00 p.m., when it closes, then Shoppers uses them for its evening crowd.

Like Shoppers owner Paul LaCava, Heidis owner Nazar “George” Ohanessian has been running his place for decades. He’s worked at Heidi’s since he was 14, and his mom bought it in 1985.

Shoppers service out front got underway on Wednesday afternoon on tables it shares with Heidi's Restaurant next door.

“We run a family-based restaurant where we try to get to know all our customers,” he said.

George has worked every day since the pandemic forced Heidi’s to close its indoor service.

He said he hasn’t made any money, but he doesn’t complain: he’s too busy with another order and planning for a busy breakfast service this weekend.

“I couldn’t thank people enough for their generosity and loyalty. People have been really supportive,” he said.