By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer
BOSTON – Over the years, Boston-area residents have mourned the loss of their favorite dining establishments time and time again, but one change in closure is on the horizon. Enthusiasm for tasty food, fun times and future Oktoberfest festivities recently got a boost following the announcement that Jacob Wirth will be making a comeback in early 2024. The historic centuries-old German beer hall closed its doors in 2018 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after a fire started in one of the upstairs apartments.
As first reported by the Boston Business Journal, City Realty is joining forces with Royale Entertainment Group, who will oversee operations, to bring the Boston landmark back to its former glory. “We started looking upstairs and there was an old safe up there,” Jacob Simmons, vice president of project management at City Realty (current owners of Jacob Wirth) told Boston.com. “This is the fun stuff when you get these 200-year-old buildings; you find that old safe or an old candy patent.”
Keeping the heart and soul
Jamison LaGuardia, Vice President of Sales, and Operations with Royale Entertainment added in the same Boston Business Journal story that they want to keep the nostalgia going and bring it up to 2023 standards while keeping the heart and soul of the place. Unfortunately, some menu items like goose liverwurst won’t be making a triumphant return. Although the menu has not been finalized, no doubt there will be some hearty, mouthwatering grub and German lager beers on draft to keep up with the restaurant’s roots. LaGuardia did admit they want to bring back the bar’s famous piano singalongs as well as event offerings such as live music and karaoke.
The Jacob Wirth restaurant had been a Boston staple since 1868 after its namesake immigrated to the country from the wine-growing area of Kreuznach near Bingen, Germany and even warmed its way into pop culture. In the Dennis Lehane novel “Small Mercies,” two characters have a date at Jacob Wirth. A wedding scene for the 2010 Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz film “Knight and Day” was filmed at the restaurant.
The new owners have heard stories of meals enjoyed and favorite former employees from locals who have stopped by checking on progress. According to LaGuardia on Boston.com, “They say, ‘Oh, I remember this place back in the ‘70s and ‘80s.’” Upon walking through the western
saloon-type double doors, the first thing many noticed was the 90-foot Old World wood-carved bar. Inscribed upon its mantelpiece is the motto “Suum Cuique”—to each his own.
Ensuring history is intact
Allegedly, Jacob Wirth had the first bar to distribute Anheuser-Busch beer and, interestingly, the Wirth and Anheuser families were from the same small German town. The new owners are mulling over hours of operation for the 21-and-over crowd yet maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, especially for those seeking a go-to place before or after the nearby Theater District’s shows.
As for renovations, the kitchen will no longer be in the basement but moved upstairs next to the bar for practical reasons. The bathrooms will be up to code and modern cultural needs, with more toilet stalls in the women’s restroom. Replacement tile must match the old tile, the clock out front stays and the mahogany bar is to receive updates. Developers had to get approval for fixes to the public-facing exterior of the building and interior of the bar. They are also renovating the apartments upstairs.
After Jacob Wirth died in 1902, his son, Jacob Wirth Jr., kept the restaurant alive and thriving despite many hardships, such as two waves of anti-German sentiment during WWI and WWII, Prohibition and the Great Depression. Jacob Wirth Jr. ran the restaurant until his death in 1965. The Wirth family continued to run the restaurant until they sold it to the Fitzgerald family in 1975, who ran the restaurant until it closed in 2018.