Farewell, Jerry Remy’s – Fenway

Jerry Remy’s in the Fenway closed this week, and I’m not really surprised. Bars close all the time in Boston, for a million reasons, but I have to say I saw this one coming.

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Remy’s was a nice place to visit, but nobody lived there. Whenever my suburban friends come into the city, they would often say “Let’s go to Jerry Remy’s.” I would suggest someplace else.

The Fenway bar area, which is an absolute circus when the Red Sox are playing, can be a real wasteland when the weather turns. It’s actually a nice time to visit the neighborhood spots there. The crowds are gone, you can sit where you like, and the workers are happy to see you. If you like a quiet, relaxed spot to have a beer and a burger, it’s a nice area.

Jerry Remy’s was built and operated as a destination spot. It was a place to go for a game, an out-of-towners place, a place you could plan an event, and it was a pretty good one. Alas, that was not enough to put the asses in the barstools. It was too expensive to visit regularly, the food wasn’t good enough to draw you in. Even when I did visit with my suburban, old white guy crew, we would frequently have a few drinks and move on to a different spot. The Landsdowne, The Baseball Tavern, Cask & Flagon are more our speed. We fit in better there. Remy’s could get us in the door, but it couldn’t keep us. A good TV setup and the coolness of Jerry’s celebrity just wasn’t enough.

I’m sure some other place will open there soon. My guess is that it will be more upscale, and not afraid to appear so. It would fit in more with the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Remy’s wanted to be a sports bar and charge tourist prices. That might work in Faneuil Hall, but not in the Fenway, not year-round at least.

Eater.com – Jerry Remy’s Fenway Location Unexpectedly Shutters

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Last Call Daisy Buchanan’s

I heard last week that Daisy Buchanan’s in the Back Bay was closing up.

I won’t tell you exactly how old I was when I first went to Daisy Buchanan’s, let’s just say I should not have been there. Things were different then, and getting into a bar was based more on who you knew or who your sister was dating than other matters, such as an ID that said you were eight inches taller or had shocking blond hair.

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I happened to be around the Back Bay the other day, and, feeling a bit nostalgic, I stopped in. While I admit that my memories of the place are kind of fuzzy, it didn’t seem to have changed much, except that it occurred to me that the last time I was there it was filled with cigarette smoke.

I was from the inner suburbs, and for some reason (other than their liberal ID policy) Daisy’s was a destination for us. I don’t know what the Bostonian translation of “Bridge and Tunnel Crowd” is, but that was us. When my high school buddy came back from the Marines, we headed for Daisy’s. Beer was cheap, there were girls there, what more do you want at that age?

Alas, there were no girls there on my last trip, save the bartender. It was an early crowd, for sure, but I don’t think there was a single person there without gray hair. Men sat at the bar and read the Herald, played Keno, and talked about the World Series. So, yes, many years after my first visit, I felt right at home.

Until I put the coaster over my beer and stepped out for a smoke, and remembered this was Newbury Street. I went out with my friend, who rocked his navy peacoat, I was fighting the cooler weather with my New Balance windbreaker. We stood and watched the beautiful people walk by. More than anything, we looked like a couple of old-school Irish cops.

There are a million stories better than mine about the place, but with dive bars becoming something of an endangered species in my city, I stood there on the corner and wondered how this unpretentious watering hole held onto such a fancy corner for so long. I don’t want to say it was the “good old days” of smoke-filled bars, bouncers with brass knuckles in their pockets, nineteen year old drinkers, and people doing nefarious things in the bathroom stalls, some change is for the good.

I’m not lamenting Daisy’s. She had as good a run as any of us could expect. I’m lamenting a small piece of my misspent youth.

Boston Herald – Daisy Buchanan’s Will Serve its Last This Fall

Goodbye, Joey’s


“I think you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Randy Newman

Joey’s Bar in Brighton Center is officially closed.

A woman I worked with lived in Somerville, we were talking about places in my neighborhood and she told me her husband liked Joey’s.

“Joey’s?”  I said, “It has three barstools and a dart board.”

“That’s why he likes it.”

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That kind of summed up Joey’s.  It was a little neighborhood spot, taking up a storefront near the corner of Washington and Market Streets.  It was a dark bar, a good place to drink in the afternoon and avoid the sunlight.  There was no judgment from the crowd there, no one asked or cared why you felt the need to start drinking at noon.  I don’t think I was ever in there when there wasn’t at least one incident of someone who had been “banned” trying to come in.  Old time bartenders would politely request that they “Get the fuck out and don’t come back.”  It wasn’t a rough place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a baseball bat behind that bar somewhere.

I can’t say that I was a regular at Joey’s even though it’s right in my neighborhood.  I did stop in from time to time.  It was a true neighborhood spot, you could go there after a hard day’s work and not worry about stinking up the place.  You could go wearing sweatpants, unshaven, wearing your ratty old sneakers.  You could show up still hungover from the night before, it was all good.  It was a good spot to pregame, sip a few cheap cold ones before you got went out for real.  The walk up the misshapen steps to the men’s room was always a good test of your general sobriety.  There was always someone ready to play darts, usually badly.

Joey’s/facebook

Joey’s didn’t have food, they didn’t serve craft beers, it was what it was.  I don’t think I will miss Joey’s so much as I’ll miss what it represented.  Joey’s neighborhood watering hole that didn’t aspire to be anything else. Sometimes that is where you want to be.  Brighton used to have a lot of those.  I won’t waste time complaining about the colleges moving in or gentrification or the upscaling of the local bar scene, change happens,  but these places seem an endangered species.  Over the past month, I’ve heard rumors of three different local places that are about to be closed down and sold.  These are places that local working people go, and the college kids go to drink cheap, and the yuppies come to slum.  There are damn few of them left.

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Fare thee well, old friend