Bostonians Lament Loss Of 137-Year-Old Pub And Its Trove Of History Doyle's Café has been in business since 1882, but the owner is closing up shop later this month. Locals are portraying this as yet another nail in the coffin of Boston history and tradition.
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Bostonians Lament Loss Of 137-Year-Old Pub And Its Trove Of History

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Bostonians Lament Loss Of 137-Year-Old Pub And Its Trove Of History

Bostonians Lament Loss Of 137-Year-Old Pub And Its Trove Of History

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A Boston landmark is expected to close its doors by the end of the month. Doyle's Cafe has been serving up drinks and food to locals, famous politicians and Hollywood celebs since 1882, but owners say the neighborhood is just too expensive. From WGBH radio in Boston, Aaron Schachter has this remembrance.

AARON SCHACHTER, BYLINE: The last time I went to Doyle's Cafe was on a Saturday night 22 years ago with a few dozen friends. It was my 30th birthday party. The then-governor and now-presidential candidate William Weld was there - not for my party, though he was kind enough to wish me a happy birthday, but because it was Doyle's. Michael Weinstein says that's the kind of place it has always been.

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN: We've been coming every Friday night after basketball for almost 40 years now here, so we're distraught.

SCHACHTER: The Doyle's staff seems distraught, too. No one would talk to me, and they asked me not to record people in the bar. You're talking about losing a landmark, one of them said, but we're losing our jobs. Outside, though, patrons were happy to reminisce about as quintessential an Irish pub as could be - dark wood, well-worn creaky floorboards, a good-sized bar. Weinstein says unlike that TV version of a Boston bar, Doyle's really is a place where everybody knew your name, and its closing isn't just about losing a drinking spot.

WEINSTEIN: It's a resource for a lot of people for a lot of different things. People have all kinds of parties. We've had parties in the back for our family and stuff. Organizations have parties back there. So many times, this place has just been used for people in the community. There's no place that can replicate what they do here.

SCHACHTER: There is a Facebook group dedicated to saving the iconic bar, but that's increasingly unlikely. The bar's owner has already sold the liquor license for around $450,000. Ironically, it's going to a 15,000-square-foot upscale steakhouse rising on the ashes of another Boston landmark, a restaurant called Anthony's Pier 4. Audrey Fannon, another Doyle's regular, says this neighborhood, this city, is losing one thing after another.

AUDREY FANNON: It's sad. It's very sad. It's like the end of an era. I don't know if there's any place around that matches the ambience of this place. I really don't. I hope it's not going to be another condo building. I bet it will be.

SCHACHTER: That is a definite possibility, though a spokesman for the family that owns the building says they hope whoever buys the place can maintain a bar of some sort, potentially even one named Doyle's. He says it's increasingly expensive to run a restaurant these days, and the pub needs a major upgrade to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to remain viable. Also lost when Doyle's closes is a major spot for politicians to press the flesh. My colleague Peter Kadzis is WGBH Radio's longtime politics guy.

PETER KADZIS, BYLINE: It's not as if there weren't or aren't other political watering holes in the city. It's just that they're more tribal.

SCHACHTER: Doyle's is jam-packed with memorabilia reflecting the 137 years the bar has been in business. It's a history that Bostonians would like to see preserved. Richard Youngstrom, an artist who lives nearby, met this week at Doyle's with a group of locals trying to figure out how to preserve it all.

RICHARD YOUNGSTROM: There is an unbelievable trove of history in this place - you know, all of the photos, newspaper clippings, paintings and so forth - and it would be a shame if something couldn't be done with that, you know, that was useful.

SCHACHTER: If you've never been to Doyle's and can't get to Boston in the next month or so, the famed watering hole has been memorialized in films like "Mystic River," "The Brink's Job" and "Patriot's Day."

For NPR News, I'm Aaron Schachter in Boston.

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