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Jimmy's Legal Now

Posted by Jim Botticelli  October 17, 2013 04:24 PM

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Jimmy's Harbor Side Restaurant in the 50's
Photo courtesy of Bill Wayland

This is a blog and combines fact, opinion, and other stuff. It's NOT news! Enjoy.

"Fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is." ... P.J. O'Rourke

When Jimmy Doulos first opened his restaurant in 1924, he probably wasn't thinking of the area as a gravel pit filled with parking lots for the next several decades. Most likely he was thinking that having a seafood restaurant on the South Boston waterfront, the first of its kind, was a good idea and in so many ways he was right. After all, they were open for business for 70 years and everyone knew about it. But this is Boston and politics and conflict trump practicality and Jimmy was a lone wolf in a sea of land use controversy that has only recently seen some resolution. Venturing over the Northern Av Bridge back in the day was an adventure you only took on to get some food, not for a night on the town. If I hadn't broken my souvenir Jimmy's drink glass with his logo last week, this blog might not have come about.
Liberty-Cafe-1929-CressetGroup.jpgWhen Jimmy's first opened it was called The Liberty Cafe (photo, courtesy of the Cresset Group) and was eventually renamed after the owner. It had little competition until 1963 when Anthony's Pier 4 was opened by Anthony Athanas and, perhaps due to its proximity to the bridge, quickly became the restaurant of choice in that part of town over Jimmy's. In fact at one point it became the highest grossing restaurant in the country. Local emotion, however, seems to teeter in Jimmy's favor. It may just be the name itself. Certainly the Southie of old had more Jimmy's than Anthonys, although both were Greek businessmen. Or that Anthony's stayed past its shelf life and Jimmy knew when to call it a day. At any rate, much of the South Boston waterfront property was owned by the Pritzker family from Chicago, and many DOB types remember the wrangling that went back and forth over the years while arguments ran their course over how best to develop the area and, of course, nothing actually got done. Until the last several years. After the Moakely Courthouse opened, the ICA soon followed and the old adage "if you build it, they will come" got a toe-hold on an area that could have been God's country for the last 100 years. Jimmy's closed in 2005 and Legal Seafoods, once a tiny one-off that reawakened Inman Square in Cambridge in the early 70's, opened yet another spot in its place. As Ruby & The Romantics once sang, "Our Day Will Come". If we just wait awhile.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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