To be sure, the old-school pubs and taverns still holding on around Dorchester are not universally loved. But each of them, no matter how much the Larry Bird and Bobby Orr posters have faded on the walls, is intensely loved by a crowd of regulars of variable size, and that is definitely the case of the Peabody Tavern on Dorchester Ave.
Regardless what it may seem on the outside - a brick façade with neon beer signs shining through cluttered windows, graffiti scribbled by vandals on the front door - on the inside the feel is more like a family, albeit one that is a little wary of outsiders.
People seated around the bar in the middle of the room are likely to know each patron's name when they come in the door and pick up a conversation they left off the night before. One or two of them have spots on the bar so well respected that their barstool magically opens up when they walk in. More importantly, the bartender - likely to be Chris Coleman or one of the other sons of the family that owns the place -will know the name and the drink of each.
So when news came along last month that they might be selling the place, more than a few troubled over where to get their neighborhood chatter, cable TV sports, and affordable beers after it's gone.
"I grew up with the people that own the bar," said Tony, who preferred to give only his first name. "It's a neighborhood bar. It's the last neighborhood bar It's too bad, there's so many local bars going under."
According to Boston's Licensing Board, owner Priscilla Coleman has petitioned to have the bar's liquor license transferred to a new owner and location, Seaport Hospitality at 425 Summer St., site of the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. The hearing date was yesterday, just after the Reporter went to print.
Due to a scarcity of common victualler's licenses in the city of Boston, the existing ones can sell for as much as $250,000 each. The city has a set limit on licenses, occasionally minting new ones targeted for specific parts of town.
When the Licensing Board approves a transfer, it goes to the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and it is extremely rare for a seller to pull out of a deal, according to Jean Larizio of Boston's board.
"We've seen it happen where it fell apart because of a lack of financing, but not just because someone changes their mind, usually," said Larizio, adding that to do so, the board would need to see correspondence from both parties.
Chris Coleman and his brothers and sister grew up on Bird Street, taking over the bartending when their father passed away. Coleman declined to comment on the possibility of the bar's closing, except to say that business has been slow and the decision, if it is made, wouldn't be a happy one.
In the last few years, the list of bar room epitaphs along Dot Ave. has grown exponentially. Tara Pub closed a couple years ago and became the Hair Stop Beauty Supply, Layden's, a block away from the Peabody, closed down and has yet to reopen under new ownership as the proposed Haven Bistro, and Mickey's Place in Fields Corner was leveled to make way for a new mixed-use development, to name a few.
Other pubs are up-scaling under new ownership, such as the Ashmont Grill and the Blarney Stone, which tends to leave some penny-pinching regulars behind.
"There's the Ashmont Grill, but who can pay $6 a beer," said David, another Peabody habitué who also wants to keep his last name out of print. "For the working man, this is a good place."
At $2.25 for a domestic draught, the value of the Peabody is hard to beat.
Dan Larner of St. Mark's Area Main Streets, interviewed this week, said he wasn't in contact with the Colemans, but would make a point of stopping in to talk to them to offer his help.