Makeover ahead for Donovan's in Lower Mills

The Lower Mills Civic Association unanimously signed off Tuesday night on a plan by new owners to renovate Donovan's Village Tavern on Dorchester Avenue. The approval came with a caveat: At the urging of the association's vice president, Richard O'Mara, members tacked on a limit to how late a planned outdoor patio can serve food and drink.

The restaurant will stop serving at 11 p.m., a request the owners, who attended the association meeting at St. Gregory's school auditorium, said was reasonable.

Two brothers with a contracting business in Savin Hill, Brendan and Greg Feeney, will now head to Boston's Licensing Board to seek approval of a formal transfer from Matthew and Veronica Donovan, the longtime owners. A hearing on the transfer is scheduled for June 25.

The brothers, who hail from County Sligo in Ireland, and their attorney, John Connell, declined to disclose to the Reporter how much they paid for the restaurant and pub, which has been on the market for several years. The restaurant-bar is in the center of an area that is undergoing a rapid change, with several high-profile properties under construction, in redevelopment or on the market.

Peppered with questions from the small auditorium crowd, the Feeney brothers said they plan to rename the restaurant "The Ledge." The eatery will serve standard American food, such as burgers, fish and chips and chicken, for a lunch and dinner crowd. They are bringing in an "experienced chef" from the South Shore for their kitchen, they said.

A limited overhaul is in the cards for the Dot Ave. tavern, with one center entrance instead of two, two handicapped bathrooms, and an outdoor patio with a seasonal bar. The patio will seat up to 60 people at 30 tables, according to the presentation the Feeney brothers made to civic association members. The kitchen area will remain the same, and they may install a sprinkler system, they said.

They have no current plans for a house which stands at the rear of the property, they added. Ideally, they hope to open the revamped restaurant around Christmas-time or New Year's.

Peak hours will likely be between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Brendan Feeney said, adding that they were not going into the "early morning bar business." They will not seek an entertainment license, he said.

The brothers originally wanted a 1 a.m. closing time for both the bar and patio, but O'Mara said that raised a "red flag" for him. While other audience members said an 11 p.m. stoppage of food and alcohol at the patio was too restrictive, the new owners said they were open to it.

"I think it's a plus," O'Mara said afterwards of the new restaurant. "I trust their judgment on it."

The civic association also thanked the present co-owner, Veronica Donovan, for her 40-odd years of service in the community and the parish.

"We know you're not going to disappear," association president Michael Skillin said.