Brendan Behan changes hands

February 16, 2007
By

JOHN RUCH

HYDE SQ.—The Brendan Behan Pub, a well-known Irish bar and popular fixture of the neighborhood for almost 20 years, is changing hands from owner Gerry Brennan.

“The place is an institution,” said prospective new owner Michel Soltani, adding that he plans no major changes to the 378A Centre St. pub. “The Behan is the Behan.”

“I hang out in that place,” said Soltani, a friend and neighbor of Brennan’s who runs the well-known Mission Bar & Grill in Mission Hill. He said he looks forward to joining Hyde Square’s burgeoning business district.

Brennan, who also co-owns Somerville’s Thirsty Scholar Pub, said he is selling the Behan to concentrate more on the Somerville pub and spend more time with his sons.

“I’m still going to be around,” Brennan said. “I’ve still got a lot of friends there. I don’t really feel like I’m leaving there.”

“He’s a great operator, Michel is,” Brennan said, praising Soltani’s current bar.

Soltani said he would like to bring back weekly live Irish music, and expand the beer selection. The Mission currently offers 20 beers on tap and 100 in bottles.

The Behan is named for the famous Irish author, playwright and Irish Republican Army member. In past years it hosted readings by Irish authors. Soltani said the pub is still a “neighborhood gathering [spot] of the intellect.”

Soltani is a former Jamaica Plain resident who moved to the US from France in the 1980s and operated a pushcart at Faneuil Hall. From there, he worked his way up to create some notable Mission Hill businesses, including the former Café de Michel (now Solstice Café), the former Michel’s Wine and Spirits and the renovation of the former Choppin’ Block bar into The Mission.

Soltani is partnered with Harry Walsh in the ownership bid. The transfer still needs approval by the Licensing Board for the City of Boston. The Public Service Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council voted last week to approve the transfer, with an encouragement to continue an existing agreement with neighbors that includes a 1 a.m. closing time.