If all goes according to plan, Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood could have a big Scottish restaurant with plenty of room for live music and other events come late winter 2022. Jason Waddleton of Jamaica Plain’s Scottish restaurant the Haven and the team behind the now-defunct Jamaica Plain institution Bella Luna & the Milky Way are combining their talents to open a new venue called the Haven at the Brewery, which will debut in the former Bella Luna & the Milky Way space at the Brewery complex (284 Amory St., Boston).
The Haven at the Brewery goes up before Boston’s licensing board on September 29 for a full liquor license, and Waddleton is circulating an online petition to show the board that there’s plenty of community support for the forthcoming venue. Those interested in the plan are encouraged to sign prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
Once open, the Haven at the Brewery will feature “an inspired Scottish menu incorporating a fresh and fun take on the pizza that Bella Luna was famed for — expect favorites and outside the box,” Waddleton tells Eater, “as well as elevated gastropub fare and the use of local flavors and traditions, an eclectic live music program, and a focus on whisky with weekly immersive dram nights.”
Waddleton is passionate about providing people with the opportunity to get to know Scotch whisky (“without any snobbery,” he notes), so dram nights at the new venue will include food pairings, blind tastings, and musical and visual elements that go along with the Scotch. There will also be tasting dinners with guest ambassadors from various distilleries. “Our goal is to make Scotch whisky accessible,” says Waddleton, “and to bring people and cultures together. We will have something for everyone — every taste and every price point — and we want to host events weekly that really showcase this spirit, its history and evolution, and Scottish culture.” In addition to whisky, Waddleton promises a large draft and bottle selection of beers, both local and imported.
As for the live music program, Waddleton is an accomplished booker; he’s especially well-known locally for his time cultivating a popular music scene at Matt Murphy’s in Brookline. He also started his own label, Pub Records, and produced the music for the original Sleep No More immersive theatre production in Brookline. “So I’ve nurtured local artists and booked national acts,” he says. “I want to take that experience and my own love of and history with live music to the Haven at the Brewery.” In addition to live music, the new space will host comedy nights, dance nights (“something Bella Luna was famous for,” says Waddleton), and small theatre productions, and there will be private and semi-private spaces available for corporate and social events of all kinds.
The new space offers a large patio and lots of parking. Inside, extensive renovations will result in a “very different look and feel” from the venue’s days as Bella Luna & the Milky Way. “We’re updating and moving the bar and creating new dining and lounge areas as well as a snug and whisky room,” says Waddleton. He wants to create “a new living room for Boston and JP residents and those visiting from afar.”
Bella Luna & the Milky Way closed early in the pandemic after a nearly three-decade run over several locations and concepts, starting as a small pizzeria, later moving into an old bowling alley and adding a bar and a stage, and finally ending up at the Brewery complex from 2008 to 2020, minus the bowling but with food and bar service and a huge range of public and private events and live music of all genres.
Waddleton looks forward to “bringing back the energy and vibrancy that the space was renowned for,” he tells Eater. “I am so excited to see the space come alive again! Bella Luna has been an anchor of the JP community for many years as a true community restaurant. That’s what Scottish hospitality is all about — an open door for all. It’s an honor to take those bones and offer a refreshed ‘haven’ for the neighborhood, Boston, and beyond.”
Meanwhile, fans of the original location of the Haven at 2 Perkins St. — Boston’s “Scottish headquarters” for over a decade — will be pleased to know that Waddleton intends to keep it open indefinitely. “It’s a unique and lovely location,” he says. “We’re excited to create a very different space at the Brewery complex to meet additional and evolving demands and needs of the community.”
The Haven at the Brewery should be open in time to host some events tied into the annual Burns supper, Waddleton says. (Burns events at the original Haven location are always a big hit and tend to sell out quickly.) Stay tuned for updates on an opening timeline this winter.