"Honduran mahogany lovers rejoice!!!" Patrick Maguire, author of the Server Not Servant blog and longtime member of the local restaurant industry, broke some interesting details about the Locke-Ober space on Facebook late last night. "Contrary to rumors that the treasured space would be gutted," wrote Maguire, "the new owners fully intend to respect and preserve the rich, historic features and integrity of the first floor, and eventually open a new bar and restaurant in that space." The sale of the building included the restaurant and liquor license, although the new restaurant will not be a repeat of Locke-Ober. "They are committed to opening an exciting, viable, sustainable restaurant that will coincide with the revitalization of Downtown Crossing," wrote Maguire.
Unsurprisingly, the new owners are no strangers to the restaurant business. One, Maguire's source for all the juicy details, is Jay Hajj, the owner of Mike's City Diner in the South End. His partners are Michael Fallman, principal of the Plymouth-based British Beer Company chain, and James P. Robertson Jr., owner of Origen Property Management in Boston. Rest assured, added Maguire, that they won't be putting a BBC, any other chain concept, or Mike's City Diner into the Locke-Ober space. While the purchase will be finalized next month, the new restaurant is at least a year away. No word on a concept yet; Hajj told Maguire that they "are starting with a clean slate, and plan to work diligently with their local and national networks of chefs and restaurateurs to find the perfect fit for the iconic landmark."
Locke-Ober closed suddenly this weekend after a 137-year run. It was one of Boston's oldest restaurants, in a class (time-wise) with Union Oyster House and Durgin Park but on its own level in terms of old-fashioned elegance and excess.