Amidst the ongoing onslaught of bar and restaurant closings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston got some potentially good news last week. Doyle’s Cafe — one of the city’s oldest and most beloved watering holes, which closed last October at 3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain — may be coming back. Sort of.
Lee Goodman of development company WaterMark Development plans to renovate and reopen the 137-year-old bar and restaurant, in conjunction with Brassica chef and owner Jeremy Kean. Goodman and Kean, along with architect Elaine Scales, presented a plan to a group of about 50 people in the parking lot behind Doyle’s last week. (Brassica, located about a half mile down Washington Street, has been open for four years, serving morning cafe fare and creative dinners featuring lots of fermented things in a casual space. Its fried chicken is among the best in town.)
The plan for the new development includes a 25,000-square-foot mixed-use building on the lot currently occupied by the Doyle’s space. It would include a 5,000-square-foot restaurant space with a roof deck, a 5,000-square-foot market, condos, and parking. Three of the proposed 23 condos will be designated affordable.
Goodman told the crowd that he plans to keep the original walnut bar, though he said it must be removed temporarily for restoration. The group plans to renovate the interior of the space, while keeping as many of the original details as possible, including the tin ceilings. The dining room will be reconfigured to accommodate more customers, and a private function space called the Kennedy Room will be added. In addition to the indoor space, the new Doyle’s will feature a roof deck. Between the dining room, private room, and the roof deck, Doyle’s will be able to accommodate 235 people.
Food at the new Doyle’s will consist of fried chicken, pizza, and “a lot of really fun stuff in between,” according to Kean. He said he hopes to transfer Brassica’s full liquor license to the new space. It’s unclear at the moment if Brassica will remain in operation in its current space as well, or if the entire business will be shifted to the new Doyle’s space. One change to the building will include the signage on the facade, which will read “Brassica Cafe and Kitchen” instead of “Braddock Cafe,” which suggests that Brassica might be set for a complete move. (Read up on the history of the Braddock name here.) The Brassica team didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment; this piece will be updated should more information become available.
Some residents at the meeting were concerned that Brassica’s involvement would mean expensive, fussy food, according to Universal Hub. “The food was never the draw,” shouted one person. Kean reassured them that that was not his intention.
“None of that fancy shit that’s expensive to justify, [just] tasty stuff for everybody.”
Goodman further reassured the crowd, telling them that he had been going to Doyle’s since he was a kid and that he wants to ensure it remains a space where families feel comfortable. He said he realizes it could be difficult to get a loan during the pandemic — especially for a restaurant — but believes the project should be complete in 30 months, contingent on permitting and funding, putting a possible opening sometime around spring 2023.
In the meantime, Brassica is open at 3710 Washington St., currently offering takeout, delivery, and some outdoor seating Wednesday through Sunday.