Sophie Vessiropoulos holding one of her many frames that featured the student identification cards of Brookline High School graduates. Her restaurant, Sealey's on Cypress Street, closed this week after almost 100 years in business. Photo by Brock Parker.
For years, when students graduated from Brookline High School, they knew they could walk across Boylston Street in Brookline, turn over their student identification at Sealey’s restaurant, and it would be framed and hung on the wall.
Sophie and Tony Vessiropoulos would take the student ID cards from each class and put them together in one large frame and give each student a gift card for a free meal.
“That way I’d get to see them at least one more, time,” said Sophie who is 51 years old.
But this week, after the Vessiropouloses received what they called a “good offer” for their neighborhood restaurant at 147 Cypress St., the couple has decided to close.
“It’s really upsetting, because I pretty much grew up here,” said Sarah Gouthro, 23, who graduated from Brookline High School in 2008, and used to cross Boylston Street/Route 9 from the school to meet up with friends at Sealey’s.
The couple lives in Winthrop, and Sophie said she has been working at the Brookline restaurant seven days a week. Business has been good.
But when an offer came in for the space, Sophie said she thought it might be a sign that it is time to close.
Tony Vessiropoulos, who worked at the restaurant for several years before buying it, said another restaurant may open in the space, but it will be a different kind of restaurant and will not be called Sealey’s.
He said it’s bittersweet to close the restaurant, where the couple has made so many friends over the years. When word got out Thursday that the restaurant was closing, Sophie said so many people began coming in that supplies were running out, and they had to close earlier than expected.
Friday the couple had a party to say goodbye to longtime customers, and a few hundred people showed up.
One of them was Robin Metrano, 45, who has been coming to Sealey’s for 19 years while working at Brookline High School and then the Lincoln School. Over the years, Metrano said she has developed a relationship with the owners.
“When I started working in the town, everybody said: ‘You’ve got to go to Sealey’s, You’ve got to go to Sealey’s,’” said Metrano, who lives in Watertown. “It will be missed.”
Gouthro said the little restaurant is frequented by “townies” and high school students, who take advantage of the school’s open campus and visit the restaurant whenever they have a chance during the school day.
Sophie said closing was a hard decision because of the close bonds she’s formed with her customers.
“We’re going to miss them so much,” she said. “It was our life. We raised a lot of these kids. They come back with their families.”
Tony said he may return to his old career as a dental technician, but he wouldn’t rule out opening another restaurant some day.
“You never know,” he said.
--Brock Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.