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A Jamaica Plain Bar Open for Over a Century Is Closing Soon

Doyle’s Cafe, an institution that has been open for 137 years, cannot afford to remain open in the neighborhood

The bar at Doyle’s Cafe, with high chairs lined up in front of a wooden bar, sunlight streaming in, and a television, American flag, and other decor on the green wall
Doyle’s Cafe will close after 137 years in operation
Doyle’s Cafe/Official Site

A Jamaica Plain bar that has been in operation for 137 years, and that has functioned as a de facto center for community and political organization, will close sometime soon. Doyle’s Cafe plans to sell its liquor license to growing steakhouse chain Davio’s, which will use it at its forthcoming mega-restaurant in the Seaport. The sale, reported to be for a whopping $455,000, is contingent on a Boston Licensing Board hearing later this month.

Doyle’s owner Gerry Burke Jr., who with his brothers Ed and Bill purchased the bar from the Doyles in 1969, told the Boston Globe he couldn’t afford to keep the business open in Jamaica Plain.

“It’s very sad,’’ Burke told the Globe. “I grew up here and I’ve had a wonderful childhood. It’s been my identity for as long as I can remember. It’s a terrible thing and I’m as sad as I can be. But the real estate in JP is as high as it’s going to get and I can’t afford to stay here any more.’’

Burke also told the Globe that he hasn’t set an official closing date. “They say this takes time so we probably have a month or maybe two.’’

Doyle’s is famous for many things, including being the first bar to serve Samuel Adams Boston Lager and being a stomping ground for local politicians like Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley and former U.S. Senator John Kerry. It’s featured in movies like Mystic River and Patriots Day. And it’s served its community since the Gilded Age. And soon it will be gone.

Watching as a liquor license floats away from a historically underserved neighborhood — and especially as it floats away from an iconic bar like Doyle’s Cafe — and toward a neighborhood that needs another upscale steakhouse chain like it needs a hole in its head will be devastating for many Bostonians. The slow but steady lurch of gentrification stops for no one.

Update, October 28, 2019: Doyle’s Cafe closed on Saturday, October 26.

Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain Plans to Close, Sell Liquor License to Davio’s [BG]
Davio’s Steakhouse Chain Is Opening a Gigantic Seaport District Location [EBOS]
Doyle’s Cafe Serves Up Brews And History [JPHS]
Why Boston Needs Liquor License Reform [BM]

Doyle's Cafe

3484 Washington Street, , MA 02130 (617) 524-2345 Visit Website