By Malaya Hayes
A step into Boston’s oldest restaurants, is a step back into history. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, making it only logical that it would have some of the oldest businesses in the country as well.
There are many businesses that have opened 100 years ago and are still open today. There must be a secret to this longevity although all of the restaurants believe that they know what the secret is.
Journalist and author, Stephanie Schorow, said that she believes the secret to longevity is the longevity itself.
“The thing about longevity is that it can be a marketing tool. It can be good. People love tradition, they love tradition in terms of something that they can hark to. But and it’s interesting, the history that is recorded in eating and drinking places,” said Schorow.
Schorow who wrote Drinking Boston, A History of the City and its Spirits, also said there is such a large amount of history and story within these businesses.
“There’s a lot of history right in the walls, there’s a lot of paraphernalia, and you can really get a sense of Boston as community by going to these places,” said Schorow.
These businesses that have such a rich history in the city of Boston is JJ Foleys, Omni Parker House, Union Oyster House and more.
There is a long list of businesses that have been open for over 100 years within the city. Unfortunately, because COVID-19, the list has changed with some businesses being forced to close their doors.
John Martha, the general manager of Omni Parker House said the secret to their longevity is simple that it is about their legacy.
“The Parker House’s continued success over the years is due to our great location in the center of downtown Boston and our long-tenured team of professionals providing high levels of service. Being known for Boston Cream Pie, Parker House rolls and our history as a business certainly enhances our position in the market, but it’s really the location and consistent service levels that have made us a competitive element of Boston’s lodging industry for over 160 years,” said Martha.
JJ Foleys has been owned by the Foley family since they first opened their doors. Michael Foley, manager and fourth generation of ownership believes the secret to their families success is their pride in the business.
“I think that there is a huge sense of pride in our business. One of us is always there. And we just we want to do things. When I when I name being on the building and on the business, we want to make sure that things are done the right way. done the right way. I think it’s that we’re It’s a phrase a family or business. We all myself, my brothers, my father, we all get along. And we just tried to do things the right way” said Foley.
Schorow believes that having their families involved, might be a large part of these businesses successes.
“I think with JJ Foleys for example, it is because their family run. And so I think they know what their expenses are, I think also they expanded, bought next door, made a restaurant out of it. The neighborhood did gentrify around them. So where they were they were kind of in an isolated place. And now with all these condos growing up there, they’re catering to a new population, but the management keeps the old population coming there. I think it’s part of the family,” said Schorow.
Union Oyster House owner, Joe Milano, believes it is the consistency that they offer their customers. That they offer a history lesson to all of their customers.
“We’re still I feel very moderately priced. I mean, prices have gone up, but I’ve gone to restaurants, I can’t believe their prices, you know. And I know when I’m getting on the plate. But we’ve always been very traditional. We offer ambiance if you’ve been to the restaurant, yes. So it’s like a history tour. If you got the food when you’re walking in, and we get today, I’m telling you people come through, they wanted to go the restaurant. I think we build brands, what’s important is, is much as we are, because we are the oldest in the city,” said Milano.
Milano also mentioned how important it is for customers to be able to expect consistency.
“There’s certain things we need to always maintain as tradition. You know what they expect, but the customer expects? If we lose sight of that, then we become a different restaurant. And I don’t plan to do that, said Milano.
Maybe there truly is no secret to the longevity to having a thriving business. Maybe the secret is building a legacy and becoming a part of history. The business owners and managers made good points on what may be the secret behind their business.
After visiting these businesses, see if you can discover what the secret is.
Listen to this podcast episode with Stephanie Schorow.