Rebuilding Breaking Grounds

Breaking Grounds Logo

On May 10, 2023, a fire in one of the residential units above Breaking Grounds caused significant water damage to the cafe. Northeast Arc is grateful that none of our staff, individuals, or patrons were injured, but Breaking Grounds will be closed for at least 4-6 weeks as the damage is assessed and the space is repaired. During this time, cafe employees will be compensated by Northeast Arc. Unfortunately, participants in the Project Perk program will have to put their job training on hold.

Please follow this page for updates as we rebuild Breaking Grounds. If you’d like to help us build back Breaking Grounds and support the inclusive employment opportunities Northeast Arc provides, please click here to make a donation today.

June 5, 2023 Update

Swipe to view renderings of the new Breaking Grounds

New look. Same great coffee. The rebuilding process for Breaking Grounds 2.0 is underway!

While construction is just beginning inside the café, with new ceiling and floors being installed, the team has been busy selecting the finishing touches on furniture and paint. The goal is to lighten up the space while creating even more flexibility and comfort in seating.

We have engaged with Creative Office Resources out of Woburn to assist in designing the space. Their team has been long-time volunteers at Northeast Arc, working with Supported Employment to help better prepare people for interviews and providing job tours. The final look of the new cafe will include a long banquet to provide comfortable seating, chairs made from recycled bottles, and a counter height table so you can better see the happenings on Main St. while sipping your favorite beverage. The selection of items was done to minimize lead times to ensure we can reopen as soon as possible.

Wanting to maintain some of the familiarity in the store, Create & Escape, DIY, our next-door neighbors, will recreate the tabletop stenciling. These tables create Instagram-able moments and add some fun to the space.

Our goal is to open by mid-July. Stay tuned for our information on our big reopening celebration!


May 22, 2023 Update

A vacant Breaking Grounds

Clean out crews and came and cleared out furniture from the cafe, the basement, and other items. We are now one step closer to beginning the rebuilding process.

May 18, 2023 Update

Photo of International Order of OddFellows and Breaking Grounds Interns and staff

The Breaking Grounds rebuilding effort received a combined $1,500 donation from The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Independent Order of Odd Fellows (Bass River Lodge and Summit Encampment #41). Northeast Arc employee John Pottier, a member of the Lodge, helped organize the fundraiser and donation. Northeast Arc staff, Knicki Foss and Michael Blunt, were joined by two Project Perk graduates, Zach and Corey, to accept the donation.

May 16, 2023 Update

While we’re still assessing the damage to equipment at Breaking Grounds, we are glad to report that artwork from Polyvious Christoforos and Mike Butler, two artists in Northeast Arc’s Steps to Create program, was not damaged. ArcWorks Art Center Director Susan Dodge visited the cafe to remove the artwork. Also undamaged were some beautiful birdhouses built by Tim Stevens, a member of Northeast Arc’s Facilities team.

May 15, 2023 Update

Northeast Arc is still working with the building’s landlord to get electricity turned back on in the cafe. The main focus now is on cleanup and inventory. 

WBZ News visited the cafe to learn about its mission and the rebuilding process. 

May 11, 2023 Update

At this point, Northast Arc is still assessing damage to the cafe, but there has been water damage throughout. There is still no electricity to the building, so we have not yet been able to determine exactly what equipment has been damaged. We are expecting significant financial losses from damaged equipment, food that had to be thrown away, and lost revenue for the cafe. Although we hope insurance can cover some of the losses, there are many program related costs, including our commitment to maintain salaries and the additional support for the interns, that will not be covered at the cafe and across the organization.

Tim Brown, Northeast Arc’s chief innovation and strategy officer, spoke to Boston 25 News about the fire and the impact on the Project Perk program.