Cluttered with friendly faces and lasting memories, TC’s Lounge was no stranger to the battle to become one of Boston’s coolest, hippest places in the 02115 zip code. City-dwellers found a niche in their Back Bay neighborhood dive bar, until
At approximately 4:30 pm, hours before Back Bay faced a three-day blackout from an unrelated fire caused by a 115,000 volt transformer near a garage behind the Back Bay Hilton Hotel, the compressor and bar cooler in the basement of TC's seized and started to smoke.
With manageable damage initially, firefighters were forced to saw the bar in half to put it out, causing irreparable destruction. An hour later, walls hanging with sports memorabilia, autographs and family portraits were left only with charred bits and pieces.
Rather than take the opportunity to renovate and upgrade a 42-year-old establishment, Tony is channeling his father, the original owner, and
“We don’t want it fancy,” he said. “It was always clean, we ran it properly and people who tried to start trouble were out forever.” The Lounge hosted a variety of events from engagement parties to baby’s first birthdays.
“I’ve seen old college students come back and get engaged here.” Tony recalled.
Walking into the bar off the teeming Mass Ave, I was overcome with a one-two punch of char and cleaning solution. When I asked for Tony, I heard a friendly “Over here!” from the back corner. Wearing an authentic Red Sox jersey and clear-rimmed glasses, Tony and I talked about how the bar has always been a part of his life.
An only child, Tony took over TC’s Lounge in 1974 from his father who had been in the bar business since the 1950’s. The bar has been family owned and passed down three generations of Tony’s.
“We call it the entertainment business, it’s in our blood,” Tony said. Embracing the dive bar attitude in a college city where incoming college students can feel lost, Tony takes them under his wing. “I try and help them. As kids come in, especially new kids, they don’t know the city.”
Excitement and anticipation is high in the Back Bay area to rebuild and re-open the bar as soon as possible. There is a level of comfort knowing your local bartender has your favorite beer waiting patiently for your arrival. As the winner of Boston Magazine Best Dive Bar in 2008, Tony and his son, Tony Jr. are determined to keep the irreplaceable memories and the culture of the establishment.
Since the fire, the community’s involvement has been nothing short of sincere. Tony and his family have received an outpour of support from fundraisers on Facebook to offering space at noteworthy establishments like Jacob Wirth restaurant. “We’re dragging our feet right now,” said Tony, but the kind letters, Facebook comments and personal visits are encouraging.
Tony is motivated and dedicated to bring the beloved TC’s Lounge back to his Back Bay family soon. The bar was practically his home.
“I left my keys and phone in there, tried to go back in twice but lost it all,” Tony recalled, diverting his eyes to the wall-length Bruins flag, eyes welling.
Recognized by Boston Magazine, among other publications is important for curb appeal, but step inside the unassuming bar once and “you’re family forever.”
The bar business is not for the faint of heart. Once a meat cutter for his father, Tony knows it can be a rough business at times but is confident that with his family, both blood and neighborhood, TC’s will be back and the same as ever.