For over 100 years, Irish pub Doyle’s has been a staple in Jamaica Plain, drawing in both locals and tourists alike. But the fabled restaurant is set to shutter, and the news has devastated many Jamaica Plain residents and others who had strong ties to its rich history.
Documents at the Licensing Department at City Hall show that on August 6, an agreement was made for Doyle’s to sell its liquor license to a new location of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in the Seaport.
Attempts by the Gazette to reach Doyle’s owner Gerry Burke Jr. were unsuccessful, but he told the Boston Globe that “It’s a terrible thing and I’m as sad as I can be. But the real estate in JP is as high as it’s going to get and I can’t afford to stay here any more.”
John Lincecum, owner of Turtle Swamp Brewing (which is right down the street from Doyle’s), said that “Doyle’s is my local bar and it has been for many, many years. For me personally, this is really hard to see. Doyle’s has a historic role when Irish immigrants needed a place that was safe,” and they found it in Doyle’s, he said.
Lincecum said he’s gone to friends’ wakes at the pub, as well as Christenings and birthday parties. “It was the place that was very personal for everyone who lives in Stonybrook,” he said.
He said he’s also proud to own a brewery that’s in such close proximity to Doyle’s. “Gerry’s a friend of mine and he was our first customer,” Lincecum said. “This is a great loss.”
Kelly Ransom, a JP native, said she too grew up going to Doyle’s. “When I was a kid we’d go there for Saint Patrick’s Day. When I was in my 20s we would go there for trivia,” she said. “And, now, it’s been my go to place for election nights to watch the results roll in. I’ve been to community meetings, family parties, and holiday events there for the past 33 years. I am so sad to see it go but trust that the neighborhood will work to make sure the place is historically recognized.”
The pub’s political significance is a great one, having hosted many political events and community meetings over the years that have helped shaped the neighborhood into what it is.
Several elected officials have weighed in on the sad news. “For decades, Doyle’s has been a Boston legacy,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement. “Doyle’s was a rite of passage for elected officials in Boston, and a place where all were welcome. I’m sad to see this chapter of political history close, but will always be grateful for all Doyle’s did for the community, and it will continue to have a place in Boston’s heart.”
City Councilor Matt O’Malley expressed his sorrow as well, saying that “Doyle’s has played a huge role in shaping our neighborhood and politics. It was my unofficial district office and the home of a plethora of civic associations and local organizations,” he said. “This is a titanic loss for the neighborhood.”
“I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure that the next iteration of the site includes a restaurant & pub which will preserve some of the bar’s historic value & deep meaning to Jamaica Plain,” he added.
State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz is also no stranger to the restaurant. “The news of Doyle’s closing was an emotional punch to my gut,” she said. “It is going to leave a terrible hole in JP’s social fabric. On a personal level, Doyle’s holds so many warm memories; it was the site of my very first election night party, and even my mom’s retirement party. For the community, it’s the home of so many community meetings, so much good organizing work, music, laughter, and history. It’s a sad day for our city when a storied community staple like Doyle’s can’t afford to stay here. This is a huge loss for the neighborhood.”
There is no word of an official closing date, but Burke told the Globe that it could be “a month or maybe two” before the doors are shut.
Kelly Ransom’s thoughts sum up a lot of what many residents seem to be feeling: “It’s been a comfortable, safe, welcoming space for me, the neighborhood, the city, and people all over the world. It’s going to be a massive hole in the heart of JP.”