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Eastern Standard, Island Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square have closed for good

Boston Restaurant Talk reports the two restaurants are seeking to transfer their liquor licenses to UrbanMeritage, the company that runs the retail space inside the Hotel Commonwealth. That usually happens when a property owner or manager wants to keep liquor licenses as they look for a new restaurant operator.




We already knew Eastern Standard wasn't ever coming back.


It's very sad, but restaurants are always a precarious business, even amazingly successful restaurants like ES. When the landlord wouldn't budge on the pre-pandemic rent rates, there was no path forward to profitability.

To reopen now and operate at a loss for the next 18 months, Harker said, he needs to know he’ll have a new market-rate lease on the other side.

“Without a new lease, without the opportunity to make back on the back end what we would be out-of-pocket during this ramp-up period, how can I rationally decide to reopen?” Harker said.

UrbanMeritage got into this business at a bad time, both for them and for ES. They paid 44 million for the 36K square foot retail area of "Harkertown" in January 2020 counting on the 120 psf rent. And now it's all been empty, with no revenue, for a year.

Everybody loses, including me. We used to love that place. Moving on... I hope Garrett finds a new Boston base when the pandemic is over, and doesn't move out of town like McClelland did.


The Curse of The Rat.


what was it called? Phnom Penh maybe? A half a mile or so out from Kenmore Square on Beacon Street, current location of Bar 'cino.

Back story/supposed source of the curse was a busboy killed in the alley in a failed drug deal in the mid to late 80s. So many failed restaurants over the last 35 years (which may have had to do with outrageous rents as much as the supposed curse). NTM the Brown's Steakhouse fire at the same location earlier in the 80s, but that one doesn't fit the back story. I ran across the (now-deceased) Brown, Jr. (forgetting his first name in a senior moment) bartending a number of times up in North Conway.

Bar 'cino seemed to be booming pre-Covid. Very smart design with the huge bar very suitable for the neighborhood/assumed clientele (unlike in many ways the disastrous Waxy's that it replaced). NTM the deck in good weather (still see some wackos out there with the heaters these days). At this point, it's by far the nicest of the few places in the area (West Fens/Audubon Circle) I've been going to recently. Has been fairly busy when I go there, usually early Sunday evenings, but I have no idea how they're doing financially.

In the past, I was more of a regular (and, given the opportunity, will continue to be a regular) at the long-established, more intimate TdH on the other side of Beacon Street.

I wonder about the future of Tiffani Faison's empire over at the end of Boylston Street, where I was also something of a regular.

Biggest loss around about here, of course, was the permanent closing of O'Leary's, my home (not so far) away from home for a couple of decades. Completely understandable why Angus and Grainne decided to call it a day, but fingers crossed that somebody sees the potential in the location, which worked fairly well for them and doesn't seem well-suited for much of anything else.



What is Harkertown?


Aren't they doing pretzels? My Facebook has their ads all over. Or is it someone else?

And they are super delicious.

So even if Covid ends, everyone looking to celebrate with their friends for the first time in years will all be fighting for tables at the city's three remaining restaurants


"Now all restaurants are Taco Bell".


Yes, because there aren't numerous people who would love to establish themselves as premier chefs of a city as big as Boston and numerous locations that are already restaurant-ready after the previous tenants have been forced to close...

Of all the industries most capable of bouncing back, I think the restaurant one is probably top of the list.

My concern is more with live events. Everything from garage band concerts all the way up to sports events and mega-conventions is going to have a much harder time finding logistics companies, audio-visual experts, and basic staffing combined with an already unknown terrain for how to handle vaccination requirements for attendees and micro-outbreaks while giving everyone confidence that this can happen again.

The demand and spaces will be there but I'd guess a lot of restaurant owners who only run one or two places have blown through a lot their reserve capital to stagger along over the last year. So I think it will be hard for a lot of them to just start a new place quickly.


Folks will enjoy any of the other hundreds of restaurants in Eastern MA.

Boston can still be an employment center and economic engine but it will take a while to get back to the level of desirability it had in Feb 2020.


Many of the happiest times I have had in my 12 years in Boston have been at Eastern Standard. When a good friend got married, a bunch of us celebrated there. When I got a new job that was a big career bump, we celebrated there. And so many others.

ES excelled at being reliably good time after time; you always knew you could depend on ES for a solid night of food and drink in an elegant space. The list of places for which I can say that has been dwindling for some time and today it's a little bit shorter.

ES would have been my first post-pandemic meal. I hope they can find a new space with a reasonable lease.


I never was a fan of a lot of the ES food. OTOH, the bar was a cool place to hang out if it wasn't too crowded, and the bartenders were fantastic.


every place I used to enjoy going to has disappeared.