A legendary burger joint in Harvard Square is on the market. Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage — which opened its doors in 1960 — is for sale. Owner Bill Bartley told Eater the decision to sell wasn’t precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic but rather by a desire to get out of the restaurant business before he gets too old.
“I’m 60 years old now,” said Bartley. “My parents started the business 60 years ago, and I’ve been working in the business for 46 years...I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 70. I’ve seen what that looks like, and it’s not pretty,” he continued, laughing.
Bartley told Eater he’s never loved the business side of the job and described himself as a great line cook and a carnival barker. “I want my last day on the job to be cooking on the line,” he said. The burger boss also told Eater that he won’t be selling the business to any buyer that is unwilling to continue operating the restaurant as Mr. Bartley’s.
“My staff is super important to me,” said Bartley. “Everyone is younger than I am, and my key people need work for another 10 or 15 more years.” Bartley said he can’t put in another 10 or 15 more years but hopes to find a buyer who can ensure job security for his employees.
Mr. Bartley’s began humbly when Joan and Joe Bartley bought the Harvard Spa, a convenience store, and transformed it into a burger restaurant that also sold paper goods. As the years passed, Mr. Bartley’s menu grew and grew, eventually boasting more than a dozen decadent burgers.
Mr. Bartley’s is on the market for $475,000, according to a listing on the Boston Restaurant Group website. Bartley told Eater that there are people with money and people with talent, and that selling his business is about finding someone who possesses both things.
“It’s such an iconic space,” said Bartley. “It’s a perfect opportunity for someone who wants to operate a profitable and iconic restaurant...I think a buyer will appear right away.”