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May 1, 2013 07:41 PM

That weedy restaurant near Fresh Pond Circle

There is a strange, abandoned-looking Chinese restaurant close to the LaundroMutt. I pass it sometimes and nearly crash my car. I keep trying to figure out of it's open or not. It's often a true Rose Nylund moment. IS it open for business? If not, when did it close? And if it's closed, why on earth is it still there? And if it's open -- CAN THEY HIRE A LANDSCAPER?

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  1. Living in the neighborhood, I've heard stories that members of the family who own it disagree on what to do, and so there it sits.

    1. Are you referring to the Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway?

      1. It's been closed for many years, to my knowledge. Sadly.

        1. Given how long it took to tear down the Faces disco building, we could be looking at that place for a while. Try to keep your eyes on the road, I guess.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve L

            I went to Faces once in maybe 1978. Good times!!

          2. This reminds me of a story from my neighborhood. I often get questions from people wandering through the South End about the Sahara Restaurant at the corner of Shawmut and Waltham. It's been closed since the 60s, when the South End's once-thriving Syrian and Lebanese ex-pat community started moving to greener suburbs, but the sign survives. The building, originally a church, is jointly owned by several cousins, adult grandchildren of the founder of the Syrian Grocery Importing empire (which imports groceries to supply small Middle Eastern restaurants and sub shops all over Greater Boston, and still has an excellent retail outlet up the block).

            The cousins have never agreed on what to do with it, so it sits, slowly mouldering and becoming increasingly ivy-covered. It's in a historic district, so any buyer would have to preserve the exterior, which makes it problematic for many development purposes.

            It was the preferred location for MTV's Season One of The Real World, but the cousins reportedly held out for too high a price with MTV (which supposedly offered them seven figures and a lot of free renovations for a few months of shooting), so it went with its second choice, the Beacon Hill firehouse.

            A fascinating remembrance of the Sahara in its hotspot days here:


            4 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              How can it be financially viable to let a building sit unused for that long?

              1. re: KWagle

                If you're already financially secure, and your squabbling relatives can't come to a decision they all legally have a say in, I guess you have little choice but to let it sit. The good news is the South End is running out of undeveloped tracts of land east of Mass Ave. Last valuation I saw, it was worth something like $12M undeveloped.

                But again, any buyer is going to inherit some issues: the building apparently has structural problems, historic-preservation restrictions require you to preserve the exterior (you can't simply raze it), and I've heard that church interiors are tough to reconfigure for other uses. The South End has at least one other former church for sale that is in much better condition but is similarly a white elephant.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Don't they have to pay property taxes and at least enough maintenance to keep the building from becoming a hazard? I'd expect that to add up after 25 years.

                  1. re: KWagle

                    The family has a very successful grocery importing business, clearly has the means to cover costs there. They have had to do ongoing maintenance work to keep the thing standing, fix the roof after a mysterious small fire. Valuations for taxes tend to undershoot market value. South End real estate just keeps getting more expensive. I imagine the investment has appreciated handsomely since the 60s.

                    Fort Point is full of empty, dark warehouse buildings that developers are just sitting on, waiting for them to appreciate. Definitely a long game.