Boston, MA - For better or for worse, it’s hard to imagine Boston without Faneuil Hall. And it’s hard to imagine Faneuil Hall without Durgin Park.
As synonymous with tourism in Boston as Duck Tours, the Freedom Trail and perplexing street directions, the 192 year old landmark has been serving distinctly New England comfort food since… well before your great-great grandfather’s great-great grandfather had learned to say Indian pudding. And for now, the red checkered tablecloths at Durgin Park are still filthy. And for now, the beer is still lukewarm. And for now, visitors anywhere from Tokyo to Toledo can still fork over moderately gratuitous tip money for the privilege of hearing wait staff practice the same brusque sarcasm and half hearted clanging of plates they’ve been practicing for almost two hundred years. But all that will be likely to change come January 12th.
Workers at the venerable institution were told earlier this week they could expect their last check that day. And while the establishment has yet to confirm or deny the allegations, CEO Michael Weinstein of the New York based Ark Restaurants Corporation—which purchased Durgin Park in 2007—says the restaurant will be closing indefinitely on January 11th unless they find a new buyer.
"It does not look hopeful,” Weinstein said, citing a dwindling customer base and competition from the nearby Seaport district as well as the cost of maintenance on a historic building as deciding factors in the closure.
While the history of its premises as a restaurant date all the way back to 1742, Durgin Park was first established in 1827; with both its menu and its atmosphere having essentially remained unchanged since then. As notorious for its regionally reflective fare of boiled dinners, chowder and prime rib as it was for the deliberately poor natured attitude of its waitstaff, it became tantamount to Boston as both a tourist draw and a contested source of pride, earning a 1998 James Beard Foundation Award for “America's Classic Restaurant”—though not without some chagrin.
“I couldn’t get through one week without someone asking me about Durgin Park,” proferred Paul Mello, a former concierge at the Marriott Long Wharf. “And they would always ask me afterwards, ‘Why didn’t you warn me about it?’”
While at its peak Durgin Park boasted of serving over a thousand customers a day, Weinstein claims the head count has diminished by as much as 30 percent over the past five years. “We're not picking up new local business. There are economic realities."
Durgin Park is located at 340 N Market St in Boston and is open Sunday - Wednesday from 11:30 am - 9:00 pm and Thursday - Saturday from 11:30 am - 10:00 pm. For more information, visit visit www.durginparkrestaurant.com