Freeport Tavern latest Dot eatery to go al fresco

By 
Michael Caprio, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 30, 2011

Freeport Tavern general manager Andrew Wilbur tests the torches on the restaurant’s new patio area, which opened last night. Photo by Michael CaprioFreeport Tavern general manager Andrew Wilbur tests the torches on the restaurant’s new patio area, which opened last night. Photo by Michael Caprio

The Freeport Tavern’s new fire-pit patio held its inaugural seating last night. With live music and, now, al-fresco dining, the Tavern is taking the next step toward becoming Dorchester’s “everyday” neighborhood restaurant.

“There was a time when people viewed us as a place that you would just come once in a while,” says Andrew Wilbur, general manager of the Freeport St. restaurant. “We want people to frequent us … to say that they want to come here more often than ‘once in a while.’”

Wilbur hopes the new patio area – and its accompanying live entertainment and fire pits – will help accomplish that.

The fenced-in patio, which extends around the façade of the Tavern facing Freeport Street, features two fire pits and a line of torches that borders the street. Freeport Tavern managers hope to keep the patio open until at least October, using heat lamps (running at 350 degrees) to draw people outside.

“Wouldn’t it be nice in the fall or winter to come outside and enjoy a nice drink in the warmth? Wilbur says.

Wilbur, who took over as manager last September, first proposed the idea for the patio to the owners last year. After getting approval for the project, the plans were set and the patio went up in a month.

Now, the management hopes to use its outdoor seating and live music to tease a more diverse crowd to the restaurant – a place that, Wilbur admits, has been known by some locals as just a “brunch place.”
“We used to get an older crowd here,” Wilbur says. “Now, though, you have people in their 20s and people in their 50s and 60s and older. The place has changed.”

But one thing that remains, Wilbur says, is the Dorchester feel. “We have many locals, blue-collar people, white collar people, hard-working people,” he says. “It’s a neighborhood place, but it’s really for everyone.”

“If I could, I would give everyone a personal invitation to come down for the first time and see us.”
Dorchester native Luz Beato has been coming to the Freeport Tavern since 1989, commuting down the street from her job at UMass Boston.

Over the past 21 years, she has witnessed the evolution of the Tavern. Like any restaurant loyalist, Beato stuck with the Freeport Tavern – “her place” - through both the satisfying and the less-than-delicious times. “For a little while, the place was dying, now you have more people coming in … and the food is a 10,” Beato said, nodding at Wilbur across the bar. “Ever since the new management came in, the place has gotten a lot better.”

When asked about the new patio on Monday, Beato said she would be the first one out there.

The addition of the Freeport Tavern patio provides Dorchester residents with yet another option for neighborhood al-fresco dining. Other local restaurants that feature outdoor seating are the Blarney Stone on Dorchester Avenue in Fields Corner, Ashmont Grill on Talbot Avenue in Peabody Square, and Ledge Kitchen and Drinks on Dorchester Avenue in Lower Mills.

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