Michael Weinstein, the CEO of Durgin-Park’s parent company, Ark Restaurants, reportedly cited the restaurant’s inability to turn a profit as the reason for its pending shutter. However, Gina Schertzer, who’s been working at the restaurant for 43 years as a bartender and server, told Eater she hadn’t noticed a significant downturn in her tips.
“I no longer have the speed the young people do, but I can still make $50 on a deuce,” she said. “This is about greed. It’s all about greed.”
Schertzer says that Ark Restaurants isn’t aware of how iconic Durgin-Park is and that they should have “done their homework before buying it.”
The roots of the restaurant stretch back even farther than its opening in 1827: When Faneuil Hall Marketplace opened in 1742, a dining hall debuted in the future Durgin-Park space soon after, serving fishermen, merchants, and other businessmen. John Durgin, Eldridge Park, and John G. Chandler purchased it in 1827, and in 1877, Chandler dubbed the business Durgin-Park in honor of his business partners, who had since died. The Chandler family continued to run the restaurant until 1945.
Since then, it has passed through several hands. Up until the purchase by the Kelly family in the early 1970s, Durgin-Park had gotten a reputation for surly service; that aspect of the Durgin-Park tradition has been toned down a bit since the 1970s, but the restaurant still harks back to an earlier era of Boston dining with dishes like steamers (“sometimes sandy,” warns the menu), a New England clambake, broiled scrod, prime rib, Yankee pot roast, lobster rolls, and — of course — chowder.
Restaurant management cited a rise in minimum wage as a mitigating factor in the closure. Schertzer doesn’t buy it.
“I’d like to see them live on $12 an hour, the cheap bastards,” she told Eater. “I’m 76 years old. Where am I going to go? I thought I’d die and that restaurant would live on. And it should live on.”
Schertzer, who described herself as a grandmother to everyone at the restaurant, ultimately was concerned about her fellow coworkers.
“They’re putting over 100 people out of work with a week’s notice.”