Will the South Street Diner Survive?

Filed in Spotlight by on July 7, 2009 5 Comments
South Street Diner, Boston's only 24 hour diner

South Street Diner, Boston's only 24 hour diner

It’s 4:00 AM. You’re tired, hungry, and walking the streets of downtown Boston in search of a hot meal.

Here are your options:

  1. Bova’s Bakery
  2. South Street Diner
  3. Miel
  4. Random Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s or a street cart.

If four local residents have their way, that list will be even shorter.

In direct contrast to New York, the city that never sleeps, Boston is known and reviled by locals and toursists alike for basically shutting down from 2 AM until 5 AM. There is no public transportation during those three hours, and all but a scarce few clubs and restaurants are forced to shut down before 2 AM.

The South Street Diner

One local landmark, the South Street Diner, is amongst the handful of places that stays open 24 hours a day within Boston’s city limits. When visitors or new residents ask about 24 hour eateries, the South Street Diner is where they’re pointed to. While there are a few other late night options, the South Street Diner is a local legend as the place to go for insomniacs, club and bar patrons, and workers coming off a late shift looking for a bite to eat.

City Streets are Noisy

Tuesday morning, a public hearing was held by the Boston Licensing Board to determine whether the greasy spoon should be forced to shutter up at 2 AM. The hearing was called after four neighbors sent in a complaint about noise emanating from the diner late at night and a possible violation of its liquor license for serving alcohol past 1AM.

One resident posted two YouTube videos, which feature two individuals talking while a couple Boston police cars show up and a fight breaking out at the building’s entrance. Not very compelling evidence, as any Bostonian can reference similar late-night disturbances breaking out all across the city.

It’s odd to complain about noise, especially when you choose to live in a downtown area of a large city. If the constantly open eatery was new to the neighborhood, the complaint would at least be logical, but the South Street Diner has been in existence since 1947. To really slam home how bizarre this noise complaint is, take a look at the diner’s location in the below Google Maps screen.

Smack in the middle of traffic, trains, and

The diner is in between the north and southbound lanes of I-93 and nearly next door to the South Station train terminal, which is a massive building with stops for the subway, buses, and commuter trains. In other words, even without the diner it’s not a serene location.

Diner Patrons Fight Back

As news spread of the complaints lobbed against the South Street Diner, its loyal patrons decided to fight back. A few local designers and programmers have quickly built a web-site and launched social media campaigns in support of the venerable venue.

At the public hearing today, the Licensing Board heard from a group of South Street’s supporters, including representatives from the Mayor’s Office, City Councilor Stephen Murphy’s Office and the local Neighborhood Association. As Adam Gaffin notes, none of the residents who issued the complaint showed up at the public hearing. Below is a video of one long-time resident of the neighborhood emphatically supporting the owner, Sol Sidell, and his role in the diverse neighborhood.

The final decision on the South Street Diner’s hours will be announced this Thursday. If you want to show your support for the diner, send an e-mail to the City of Boston Licensing Board. And a final note to the four complainants, do everyone a favor and move. It’s clear you and the neighborhood are not a good fit. You can’t force an entire neighborhood to adapt to you, you either fit in with the neighborhood, adapt, or move. Forcing all Bostonians to lose out on one of our few 24 hour restaurants because you made a poor decision on where to live is selfish and illogical.

Thanks to prettydaisies for the photo of the South Street Diner.

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  1. Support the South Street Diner: E-mail the Boston Licensing Board | July 8, 2009
  1. Sian-Pierre says:

    I may be in Paris for a little, but EVERY TIME i come back to Boston, I’m at the South Street Diner around 4am. I’m not noisy, nor are half the people there. It’s a gem to have places like that around and if it’s taken away, Boston takes one step (further) back in it’s desire to be PROGRESSIVE and umm, 2009? I mean how can we be a booming city with 3 freakin late night restos? Embarrassing.

  2. You’re absolutely right Sian-Pierre, I wonder how many all night restaurants Paris has? I’m willing to be it’s more than three.

    Your comment about being a booming city, that’s really what these four complainants had an issue with. They decided to live in the midst of an area of the city with an active nightlife, apparently without doing any research on the area.

  3. Josh G says:

    I love the South Street Diner. I love diner’s as a whole, but I have some great memories at that particular diner with some great friends.

    Josh G’s last blog post..Boston Red Sox Player Profile : Aaron Bates


  4. Quick update, the Licensing Board has decided to let the diner stay open 24 hours a day!

    Adam Pieniazek’s last blog post..Google Announces Chrome Operating System

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