4 Months After Bombing, Forum Manager Reflects On Rebirth

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Workers paint the new sign of Forum Bar & Restaurant, the site of the second blast during the Boston Marathon on April 15. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)
Workers paint the new sign of Forum Bar & Restaurant, the site of the second blast during the Boston Marathon on April 15. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)

Standing in front of Forum Bar & Restaurant on Boylston Street, it looks as if nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happened here. People are walking by. Tables and chairs are set up outside in front of the restaurant. The sun's shining.

But four months ago to the day, this was where the second bomb exploded during the Boston Marathon. Evidence of the carnage is long gone. Memories of that day are not.

Chris Loper, general manager of Forum Bar & Restaurant, in the newly redesigned space, which reopens to the public on Friday (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)
Chris Loper, Forum's general manager, in the newly redesigned space, which reopens to the public on Friday (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)

On Friday, Forum Bar & Restaurant reopens to the public, the last Boylston Street business to do so after the bombing. Thursday night, Mayor Thomas Menino will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the reopening. The restaurant will also hold a fundraiser for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which helps support cancer patients. The foundation was started by former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, who was at Forum when the bombs went off.

We sat down with a Forum employee and talked about what it will be like for him when the restaurant opens its doors to the public.


My name is Chris Loper, and I'm the general manager at Forum Bar and Restaurant. I came into work at the restaurant on April 15. I got here about 7:30 in the morning that day, and then I set up the patio and we were all excited for a great day.

I heard the first bomb down the street that actually went off in front of Marathon Sports. I was towards the back of the restaurant and I started moving towards the front of the restaurant as the second one went off. People were in a state of confusion and just trying to figure out the best way to get out of the restaurant at that point.

It was just a very chaotic scene. There was some broken glass on the floor and there were some people that just needed help. Some people were coming in off the street to just kind of have a safe haven and we did the best we could to help those people.

We brought a lot of ice to victims outside. We brought napkins and tablecloths and made tourniquets out of a photo booth. I saw a lot of people helping a lot of people at the front of the restaurant, so leave it at that.

If we were to sit here in complete silence for about three minutes, it would feel like forever. And that's what it felt like to us until paramedics and emergency response teams came to assist us.

After I got home, I was glued to the TV to try to find out what really had happened because you didn't know what happened. Who may have claimed responsibility for it. If they had caught anyone, if they knew anything.

And then it was just finally falling asleep with the TV probably still on going through all the different coverages. And I woke up the next morning with the FBI calling me saying they were on my way to my house to talk to me about it and then all sorts of media outlets were calling me as well. So a little surreal.

There was a lot that happened here. There was a lot that busboys and food runners and waitresses and hostesses and bartenders did that day that was extraordinary, you know? So that's really the enduring thing that I see when I think about what happened that day. I don't think about, you know, the... that's what I think about that day.

Shortly after everything happened on April 15, the managers and I sat down with the owners and very quickly we decided that we were going to try to reopen. It was just a matter of what we were going to do to reopen. And we had to wait about 10 days just to get back into the restaurant itself, so we didn't know what was salvageable, what wasn't, what needed to be replaced. But we made the decision prior to even getting in here that we were going to reopen right in the same spot.

It will be an emotional day. I have been in touch with one of my favorite bands in the world, who is from New Orleans, and their name is Rebirth Brass Band. So kind of a catchy name for a new restaurant to be opening. But they're going to march from the finish line to the front of the restaurant as we reopen, as the mayor's cutting ribbon out front, four months to the day on August 15. So we're really looking forward to it.

This segment aired on August 15, 2013.


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