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Doyle's Property Owners Aren't Holding Out For A Bar Revival

A representative of the owners of the Doyle's Cafe property in Jamaica Plain said Wednesday that the landlords "will talk to anyone about anything," including condo development, and are not holding out for a buyer to revive the iconic bar, which plans to close and sell its coveted liquor license.

"Realistically, an operator has not been able to continue it today," said Pete Gori, managing partner of Boston Commercial Realty Partners, who represents owners Eddie and Joni Burke.

Gori spoke after Wednesday's Boston Licensing Board meeting, where some members of a group called Save Doyle's Cafe watched in disappointment as the board approved the $455,000 planned sale of Doyle's liquor license to the Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse chain, which wants to use the license to serve alcohol at a new location in the Seaport.

The license has been held since 2005 by Eddie Burke's nephew, Gerry Burke Jr., who owns and operates the business with a partner. Eddie Burke retains ownership of the property.

Now, as Gerry Burke Jr. moves toward selling the liquor license to Davio's, Eddie and Joni Burke are considering the future of the property.

"We have to take restaurant economics into account with that sale," Gori said, adding that "it is not their position, today, what should go there."

Gori read a statement from Eddie and Joni Burke, which said, in part, that the couple "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."

Ziba Cranmer, a Jamaica Plain resident and member of the Save Doyle's Cafe group, is hoping for such a rebirth.

"We want to create healthy, vibrant communities, and we need to think about policies that will enable that to happen more," she said.

"I don't fault Davio's; they're doing their business," Cranmer added. "But wouldn't it be great, and wouldn't it be refreshing, if people came together and said, 'I don't want my gain to be another community's loss'?"

Davio's owner Steve DiFillippo spoke with Cranmer and others in the hallway outside a City Hall hearing room, after receiving the favorable decision by the Licensing Board. He rejected the notion that he is "poaching" an expensive liquor license, as one activist put it, and said he empathizes with small restaurateurs because he used to be one, in the 1980s.

"A little guy, a young kid could come up," DiFillippo said. "And now they can't come up" because licenses are cost-prohibitive.

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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