Legendary Jamaica Plain bar Doyle's Cafe is indeed for sale, its owners confirmed Wednesday, but they haven't yet decided who will take over or what will happen to the property.
A part of Boston lore for over 100 years, Doyle's is known for hosting politicians and celebrities for cold beers and hearty food. But last week, The Boston Globe reported that Doyle's' owners had agreed to sell its liquor license to a forthcoming steakhouse in Seaport, Davio's. Owner Gerry Burke Jr. told the newspaper he was planning to close — the rent in Jamaica Plain was too high.
On Wednesday, as a campaign to save Doyle's continued, the Burke family offered a statement clarifying their intentions: "we can no longer maintain Doyle's as some would like or would think practical. We have therefore chosen to market the property for sale in order to secure our much-deserved retirement."
The family is thankful for the recent outpouring of support and appreciation, said, but Eddie and Joni Ross Burke asked that the public "respect our decision," which they called difficult and personal.
They also said they were committed to making sure the next owners, whoever they are, understand Jamaica Plain history, as much as possible: "Since the property has not yet been sold, we do not know who the next steward of the Doyle’s legacy might be. However, our representatives will happily engage in constructive discussions with any viable party that comes forth in order to determine if a locally-owned tavern may be reborn in this location at some point in the future."
F. J. Doyle's Braddock Cafe is a beloved Jamaica Plain institution, with history on its walls dating back to 1882 — the Burkes bought it in the 1970s — and many residents have been fighting against its closure.
Efforts to save the beloved restaurant are underway. The Save Doyle’s Coalition started a Facebook page and handed out postcards asking patrons to write letters to the owner expressing what the restaurant means to them. Postcards were collected at a Democratic debate watch party at the bar last week.
Janet Doyle, daughter of the cafe's founder, tearfully pleaded in a video for the public's help in saving the eatery.
"I have a lot of memories here and I’m very, very sad," she said. "I’m hoping that Save Doyle’s Cafe and Facebook, and Facebook really, really helps because this is such an iconic place that everybody comes to. I’m sorry. Just try to save this place, please."
But the Burkes said, "We love this place, too," in their statement, reflecting on nearly 50 years as stewards of the bar.
"The business, the property, and the history that has occurred here are all deeply personal to us," they wrote. "We met our spouses here, we have celebrated family events and toasted those whom we have lost here, and – like many of you – we have watched and participated in the passage of time in Boston’s political and socioeconomic history within the walls of Doyle’s. We love this place, too."
Also Wednesday, a procedural hearing was held with the city about selling the liquor license to Davio's.