The Death of the Dive Bar — Temporary or Terminal
Boston, MA - It’s easy enough to assume that the pulse beat of any American city is defined by uniquely local institutions. Yes, convenience and security can be found for just $2.79 at your nearest Starbucks. And comfort and familiarity are also to be found alongside unlimited salad and breadsticks at strip mall Olive Gardens. But it’s the idiosyncrasies, the nondescript landmarks, that lend an all too distinct hue to any neighborhood. Places made conspicuous by their sheer inconspicuousness. Timeless. Iconic. Defining.
The sort of institutions celebrated in pages of luridly purple prose by travel guides and Food Network reruns alike. The sort of institutions who, under normal circumstances, would be campaigned for by diehard patrons as local monuments worthy of being added to national historic registries.
Few, however, cry for the dive bar.
We should have seen the writing on the wall back in September when the Beacon Hill Pub—who once proudly posted negative reviews prominently at its bar back mirror—temporarily closed in September after being sold to the Greater Boston Beer Company (a company itself managed by the all-seeing eye of City Realty Group.) Despite claims of its death being greatly exaggerated, it’s December and we have yet to hear the music of Ratt coming out of any establishment on Charles Street.
Now, two more Greater Boston Beer entities have announced their temporary shuttering over the past weekend: Canal Streets’ Sullivan’s Tap and the Tam in the Theater District.
An official statement from the Greater Boston Beer Company offered the following reassurance in October: ”The Beacon Hill Pub will be reopening soon under new management with no changes to this Boston institution that patrons have enjoyed for so many years. We are delighted that the character and charm of this wonderful pub will remain the same and we look forward to serving the BHP’s loyal customer-base and creating many more memories.”
However, neither of the establishments closing this weekend appeared conciliatory towards the potential changes in management.
A Facebook post from the Tam on December 3rd read: “The wonderful owners just were getting old... they've been very good to us. New people bought it they say it will be the same. We'll see.”
Sullivan’s Tap, however, has been making cryptic allusions to its potential demise (as well as the neighborhood) for weeks now; a fact only confirmed by public hearing notices for its potential license renewal dating back to August.
Greater Boston Beer—which also owns Mary Ann’s in Brighton—has yet to comment on the reopening of either bar.
Eddie C’s, we pray we never have to say we hardly knew ye.