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Work begins to transform old restroom on Boston Common into Earl of Sandwich shop

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  May 30, 2012 04:45 PM

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(Photo by Brock Parker for

Two men work on renovating a former restroom on the Boston Common to turn it into an Earl of Sandwich shop.

Construction has begun in a project to transform a long-vacant Boston Common restroom into a sandwich shop.

Fencing and scaffolding surrounded the octagon-shaped structure earlier this week as a construction crew worked inside the 660-square-foot building to turn it into a new location for restaurant chain Earl of Sandwich.

The building, known as the Pink Palace because of the pinkish hue of its masonry, was built in the 1920s as a men’s comfort station, but has not been used since the 1970s.

It sits near the Common’s baseball fields and tennis courts, and the Parkman Bandstand.

Last September, the city announced it had signed a 15-year lease with Orlando-based Earl of Sandwich under which the company will pay $50,000 a year to the city.

"This building has been kind of a decaying and dead building in the Common for many years. It will be great to have some activity in there,” said Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden.

Vizza said she expects the sandwich shop to attract visitors and revitalize the area, much like the Friends’ recent renovation of the Brewer Fountain Plaza has done.

“It will bring some life to that part of the Common,” she said.

The eatery has hired it own contractors for the project and will pay for the cost of renovations, according to the Boston Parks & Recreation Department.

Vizza said the eatery has worked to maintain the historic facade of the building while renovating the interior. She said the Friends hope to ensure lighting and signage are well-integrated into the park and truck deliveries are timed to cause as little disruption as possible.

The franchise already has locations in California, Florida, New York, Nevada, and Texas, as well as a location inside Logan Airport.

A sign hanging on the fence surrounding the construction site promises passersby “the sandwiches are coming.” When the project was originally announced, an opening date as early as this spring was said to be possible.

The Globe has previously reported that an engineering report on the Pink Palace commissioned by the city and released in 2007 found that renovations would take about two years and cost anywhere from $750,000 to just under $1 million.
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