A local developer who had been going to Doyle's since he was a kid has teamed up with Brassica Kitchen in Forest Hills on a plan to renovate and re-open Doyle's in its original Washington Street building by using some of the profits from the sale of neighboring condos.
Lee Goodman of Watermark Development and Brassica co-owner Jeremy Kean discussed their proposal at a meeting with about 50 people in the parking lot right behind Doyle's tonight, along with their architect, Elaine Scales of Jamaica Plain. Goodman said he wants to restore a place that was more than just a restaurant and bar, but a community gathering spot.
Under their proposal, the Doyle's building would retain its current footprint but would undergo extensive external and internal renovations - and have a rooftop deck added. A house next door on Washington Street would be replaced with a small neighborhood market topped by four floors of condos - 16 in all. Part of the rear parking lot would be replaced with a four-story, seven-unit condo building, while six more condos would be built in a new three-story building across Williams Street on land that was also originally part of the Burke family's holdings.
Goodman said the new Doyle's would keep the existing bar, although he said he would likely have it removed first for renovation before reinstalling it. The rest of the interior would be reconfigured for an upgraded dining area, a new "Kennedy Room" meeting area and a partially open kitchen, Goodman said. He added the interior would have a capacity of 100 people, the deck 100 more. The building would have two elevators added, in part to make the roof deck ADA compliant, he said,
Goodman added the interior will be "an homage" to the old Doyle's, which closed last fall, with the same sort of old-style murals and posters that made the old place such a Boston landmark Scales said she would try to keep other original parts of the restaurant, such as its tin ceilings.
If people who bought some of the posters at auction when Doyle's closed would want to give them back for re-hanging, that would be great, he said.
One change would be on an outside wall, where the current "Braddock Cafe" would be changed to "Brassica Cafe and Kitchen."
Kean said he's planning a menu focused on pizza and fried chicken "with a lot of really fun stuff in between." He said he hopes to transfer Brassica's current liquor license to the new, larger location.
In response to one worried resident, Kean said, no, he is not planning anything yuppieish or hipsterish, like with sushi, Brussels sprouts or fois gras; "none of that fancy shit that's expensive to justify - [just] tasty stuff for everybody."
"The food here was never the draw!" one resident yelled.
Kean: No sushi:
Goodman, who recalled his parents taking him to Doyle's when he was a kid, said the idea is to keep Doyle's as a family place. A key part of that, he said, is providing parking for families who want to drive up after a Little League or soccer game on a Saturday or Sunday. He said his proposal would keep 30 parking spaces for restaurant and store patrons, with condo residents getting a "stacker" system for their cars.
Goodman acknowledged he'll be facing a challenge to get a bank to lend money to renovate a restaurant building that needs a lot of work, no matter how many fond memories people have of it, in the middle of a pandemic. He said he's looking at trying to convince a lender to let him use profits from the sale of the condos as collateral for the money he'll need to re-do Doyle's.
He added he's also thinking of asking the city for money from its Community Preservation Act fund to help renovating a building that is an important part of local history - one of the things the city can spend the money, collected from a surcharge on real-estate transactions, is for historic preservation,
Some residents praised him for not simply proposing another five- or six-story blocky building like the ones that are now taking over much of Washington Street.
"We're not looking to a monster box building like the rest of Washington Street," Goodman said. "It's a modest box building."
By not building any new floors atop the current Doyle's building, Goodman also avoids any potential headaches with Stony Brook, which flows through a culvert under a small section of the building,
Goodman added that he is looking for a sort of upscale neighborhood market - of the sort you might expect in the South End or the neighboring part of South Boston - for the 5,000 square feet of retail space in the new condo building next to Doyle's
He added that he's looking at selling three of the condos in the building immediately next to Doyle's as affordable - which would meet the city's minimum 13% requirement if the six units across Williams Street are excluded. This proved one of the few areas of immediate contention, with some residents asking for more affordable units - one noted a local advocacy group had conducted "die ins" about proposals in other parts of Jamaica Plain to try to boost their affordable-unit numbers to 25%.
Goodman said he is facing a particular challenge with the project - because he would be trying to subsidize both the cost of the affordable units and the restoration of Doyle's and that he's not sure how much more he could afford. But he added it's still early in the process, that even if everything goes well, it could be 12 months before renovation and construction starts and 30 before the project is completed.