BOSTON – The past two years haven’t been particularly kind to local landmarks here in Boston. Witness the recent departures of Amrhein’s, Durgin Park, and Jacob Wirth’s. Even establishments which could in no way be considered venerable (although they could rightfully be considered institutions if viewed in a certain light) have fallen victim to the twin boot heels of redevelopment efforts and gentrification. Dispossession never really dies. It’s just masked under the garish camoflauge of food halls, luxury condos and a distinct sense that history is written by whoever can make the best offer.
Despite their claims, Doyle’s was neither friendly nor charming. In fact, it was utterly nondescript. You expected neither bad service nor bad food. Just a sense of refreshing ambivalence. But it was reliable. You knew where it stood. You knew every time you walked by it on the corner, you could say to yourself “I’ll give it another shot. One last time.” Which you invariably did. Repeatedly. And in that sense then, yes—it could rightfully be considered iconic. But even icons are finite. That’s part of their nature. And after 137 years, Doyle’s is closing for good.
“As of right now, I don’t know when our last day is going to be,” owner Gerry Burke, Jr. told the Boston Globe earlier this week. “They say this takes time so we probably have a month or two.”
“It’s very sad...I grew up here and I’ve had a wonderful childhood. It’s been my identity for as long as I can remember. It’s a terrible thing and I’m as sad as I can be. But the real estate in JP is as high as it’s going to get and I can’t afford to stay here any more.’’
The restaurant, first opened in 1882, was purchased by Burke’s father in 1970.
For all its lack of pretense, it’s easy to forget that Doyle’s has always been a must-stop for political campaign photo-ops from the likes of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Scott Brown and more recently, Elizabeth Warren. Or that it’s figured prominently in several films—most notably Mystic River and Patriot’s Day. Or, more importantly, that it was the first to offer Sam Adams on tap in the 1980s.
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse confirmed to WCVB they're buying the liquor license from Doyle’s for $455,000 with plans for a new restaurant in the Seaport District.
Reactions to the closure have been generally lamentful from area residents.
“Devastatingly sad news about @DoylesCafe, a JP institution since 1882,” tweeted Boston City Councilor Matt O’ Malley. “Doyle's played a huge role in shaping our neighborhood (& politics). It was my unofficial district office & the home of more civic associations, groups, & JP orgs than I can list. Titanic loss for the n'hood.”
The sale is contingent on a licensing board hearing scheduled for September 18th.
Doyle’s is located at 3484 Washington St in Jamaica Plain and is open Monday - Wednesday from 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Thursdays from 11:00 am - 12:30 am, and Saturday Sunday from 9:00 am - 12:30 am. For more information, visit doylescafeboston.com
Image via Doyle's