Friday, February 17, 2006

The gentrification of Boston

I love Boston. Not just a little, a lot. I've lived in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Atlanta, New York (twice), and Providence. I've travelled the world over. And yet I will always come back to Boston. But lately, it's pissing me off.

I'm a fairly simple guy. I like beer and beef. (Well, I also like Daniel Boulud's 8-course tasting menus, but you get where I'm coming from). So while others flock to the trendy clubs and bars, I'm quite content to slug back a cold one at a place like Pete's Pub, near Boston's Haymarket. Or have a great burger at Tim's Tavern at the edge of the Back Bay. Now both are in danger of changing forever.

Pete's has been bought by The Sommers Group, the same people who owns the Green Dragon and the Grand Canal. I work directly across the street from the Grand Canal. A Bud is nearly $5. I don't drink there. Mr. Sommers is going to turn Pete's (a self-described dive and old man's bar) into a place called "Bunch of Grapes." I don't have to tell you what that means.

Tim's, on the other hand, is still Tim's. It's just not serving food. From what I understand, the trendy Back Bay/South End neighbors don't really want "that kind" of place in their midst. So for nearly a year since renovating his kitchen, the owner of Tim's has "failed" dozens of inspections. Hmmm, what a coincidence, especially consedering that Tim's is black-owned. I'm almost resigned to having Tim's close, and a bistro opening in its place. A bistro that also serves burgers, but for $25 a pop.

This is bullshit, people. One of the reasons I love Boston so much is its improbable mix of blue collar and diamond necklace. Where you can walk alongside John Kerry down Beacon Hill, and stop at a joint like the Sevens for a cheap beer and a bowl of chili. Where after shopping for Prada at Copley Mall, you can sit side-by-side with construction workers at Tim's and throw back a Jameson.

I don't want Boston to become Disneyland. In Disneyland, there is no Fireside Tavern, no Pete's Pub, no Tam, no Red Hat, no Tim's. In Disneyland, everything is ordered, and perfect, and staged. Funny how something that appears so right and shiny and polished can feel so wrong.

Change is inevitable. And generally good. But change merely for the sake of appearance and a few extra dollars is just shortsighted.

And with the loss of places like Pete's and Tim's, downright tasteless.


Blogger Marc said...

And add to the list the sale of the Quiet Man Pub in South Boston, which will likely end up being torn down and turned into condos, from what I heard today.

The closing of Nick's Beef and Beer in the late 1990s was just the beginning....

1:51 PM  
Blogger Rich O said...

If you wanna see a more concise example of gentification, visit the area once known as Harvard Square. Gone are the small books stores, used clothing stores, and used record stores replaced by Barnes and Noble, Tower Records, and The Gap. Where's the Tasty? The Bow and Arrow? The Wursthaus? I want my Harvard Square back.

Thank god Charlies still exists!

3:02 PM  

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