So it appears that the owner of the place that's taking over Bob the Chef is already going out of his way to alienate folks. In his column in the Globe's Sunday magazine, Charlie Pierce wrote about the closing of Bob's in a manner very much like what people were saying about it here -- that the food was nothing special but it was a great, egalitarian scene -- and this week's issue had a letter with the owner's response:
"Thanks to Charles Pierce for his kindhearted welcome to Boston ("Pierced," November 25). How charming to be greeted to the city as "soul-killing . . . Yuppie Scum." To quote Steve Martin's character in The Jerk, "I'm somebody now! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity . . . that makes people." Hey, Chuck, if you find yourself in the South End next spring, come on by Night Town. We can get sockless on cosmos, talk about the "old" Boston, and wax poetic about the days that have so obviously passed you by. Cheers.
Owner, Night Town Boston"
Wow! The place isn't even open yet and it's already crossed off my list forever! That's a great way to introduce yourself to the city. What do you suppose will open in this space six months later when Night Town is shuttered?
On the one hand, I too resent the relentless steamrolling of idiosyncrasy that gentrification represents. There just aren't that many places in Boston, for example, where I routinely saw blacks and white drinking comfortably together, as at Bob's. It makes it worse when the faces of color are supplanted by wealthy, obnoxious suburbanites who have just arrived in town and fancy themselves city dwellers, but bring their sense of entitlement and disdain for longer-term residents with them.
I treated with this subject at length in an article for Boston Magazine not too long ago, including a discussion of how Boston's South End restaurants have led the wave of gentrification, both for good and bad: www.bostonmagazine.com/home/articles/...
As you can see from the online comments, this kind of got up the nose of a lot of Boston Magazine's readers, who tend to be prosperous suburbanites. An unusual piece for that publication to commission, to say the least.
On the other hand, I think it's unfair to judge any new restaurant sight unseen, even if it supplants a beloved old watering hole. I shed a big fat tear at the closing of Tim's Tavern, another rare example of a Boston bar with a highly racially and socio-economically integrated crowd -- and not incidentally, one of the city's best burgers. But the newcomer in that spot, Coda, is actually very good on its own merits, with fine, casual atmosphere, an outstanding, budget-friendly wine list (a rarity in its own right), and very good food that is still relatively affordable for the neighborhood.
So yes, I'm with Charlie Pierce that it's sad to see Bob's go, but I think it's unfair to Night Town to slag them before the doors even open, especially since Pierce completely ignores the underlying reason Bob's closed. Owner Darryl Settles shuttered Bob's in order to focus on his new joint venture, The Beehive, a place that has attracted exactly the clientele that Night Town hopes to garner.
The crowd at Bob's mostly couldn't afford the flood of $11 cocktails that fly across the bars of The Beehive every night. Should Pierce go after Settles for closing Bob's to focus on the far more profitable Beehive, with its far squarer, whiter, wealthier crowd? I don't think so: it is a business, after all. But by the same standard, Aalders should also be cut some slack.
Well, the thing is...Charlie's right. The guy does come off as Yuppie Scum, and everything I've heard about Night Town, right down to the remarkably lame name, sounds absolutely laughable. Bob's wasn't, and likely never would be again, what it once had been, but if its replacement is going to be just another watering hole for wankers instead of a place that caters to a similar cross-section of Boston, I fail to see how it's going to be an improvement. I repeat: six months, tops.
Problem is, Malcom Aalders is right about the publicity thing (though it seems a bit ironic that he is quoting from a movie called "The Jerk"). I bet there may be more than a few folks who decide to check the place out, based on this little flame war going on between him and Pierce.
This is an interesting one. I'm not a fan of the generic upscale watering holes to which Pierce refers, but I do feel like he stepped over the line, as did Aalders in his response. Kinda fun to watch, though, in a slow, sweaty train wreck kind of way.
I agree with hiddenboston. I also am not a fan of this type of place and think the name is super hokey. That's just my opinion though. That said, I disagree with dissing a place before it's even open. It's not Aalders fault that Bob's is gone -- it wasn't a hostile takeover. We see this kind of misdirected ill will often when a popular place closes and something else opens up. What I really don't understand is why this guy Aalders would insert himself into a negative situation by adding more negativity. I don't see the sense in this, especially when you're new to town and presumably want to make a good impression (in order to win customers). Just be silent and let your place speak for itself -- people will form their own opinions. I'm sure someone out there likes this kind of place...
LOL - I think that is a great response - based on my limited exposure to people who grew up in the Netherlands, the attitude in his letter is exactly what I would expect. This response encourages me that this place may not actually be like all the other places of the kind Pierce bemoaned.
I'll probably be in the minority, and I really didn't want Bob the Chef's to close (I'll still call it by the old name), but if you were opening a new place and were getting completely ragged on and dubbed "soul killing", you might whip off a smart ass reply too. Of course, the new name Night Town doesn't sound so promising.