What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Ellen Walker, Special to the Gazette

“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” A fun quote from, who else but the inimitable Dr. Seuss!

I am sure you were disappointed last month when Mossy Martin’s wry sense of humor and keen observations were nowhere to be found in the Gazette.  Somehow Mossy’s August article ended up in the Jamaica Plain Gazette – you can find it online or at Mike’s Donuts where an avid follower placed several copies!

September is time to “Welcome Back Students” to Mission Hill. Students bring youthful and adventurous energy to our neighborhood. Year after year, I have witnessed the sights of loving, proud parents unloading furniture, kitchen utensils, bookcases and more. Their devotion to their children is a wonderful thing to observe. Moreover, the college years may become the most memorable and best of times for those who live in our community. Each year, MHMS is pleased to play a part in welcoming students. 

MHMS has posted our traditional “Welcome Back” signs in most of the storefronts in the neighborhood and coordinated student discounts with over a dozen Mission Hill businesses. A big thank you to all the participating businesses!

On Friday, August 5th, the Parks Department along with Mayor Michelle Wu, celebrated the re-opening of Mission Hill Playground on Smith Street. It is always a pleasure to welcome Mayor Wu to Mission Hill! The turnout was great and dozens of young people from Tobin School and the area participated. Simon Paolos, who is seen in the photo with Mayor Wu, spoke to the audience about how important it was for him to be involved and part of a solution that positively helped Mission Hill youth with the renovations done to the playground. By the way, Mayor Wu is MHMS’ guest of honor on September 10th at the 25th anniversary celebration at BCYF Tobin Community Center.  It will be an event not to be missed!

In our ongoing series of highlighting some of Mission Hill’s entrepreneurs, we bring you two owners that represent different ends of the spectrum: Harry Walsh, owner of The Mission Bar & Grill and The Puddingstone Tavern has been a mainstay in the community for many years and Nicholas Chen, owner of Tavern of Tales, a board game café that opened just prior to the pandemic. 

Harry’s businesses are on Huntington Avenue and Tremont Street. His family has been in the tavern business for many years and though he began in Somerville, Harry’s heart is here in Mission Hill. He is always quick to say “the staff make the business successful. Without them and their dedication to providing excellent service and food, we would not be here!” It is not an easy business to get into or to be successful in. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and many long hours but in the end, it is worth it. He is excited about a new restaurant opening in the area (Yellow Taqueria) as one of the owners, Jarek Mountain, originally worked for him. “It is great to see someone like Jarek grow as they follow their passion” said Harry. 

Nicholas Chen is the creator and owner of a unique destination here in Mission Hill. Tavern of Tales (TOTs) opened their doors in December of 2019. Nicholas’ idea was to have a bar and café where people could play board and electronic games. The electronic games can be played in private rooms with trained staff teaching the latest, with many that offer sound effects. TOTs is not only the first in the U.S. to offer this concept, but they also include traditional board games, trivia nights and outdoor games on their fabulous lighted, patio.  When asked about the challenges caused by the pandemic, Nicholas said “It was definitely difficult. We reopened twice and since 2021 have bounced back by working with the community, offering weekly barbecues that offer a variety of foods throughout the Summer and building a network community of people who enjoy board games.  These steps have been key to our ongoing success here in Mission Hill.”

Mission Hill business owners are resourceful, creative and flexible and we did not lose one business during the pandemic as a result. Nicholas continues to offer new and exciting options to residents and visitors. Tavern of Tales is now open for breakfast at 8:00am and offers a great place to study, work or just enjoy along with the free Wi-Fi!

When you read this article, MHMS’ 25th anniversary, community celebration will be only days away. Do stop by and enjoy all the free family activities on Saturday, September 10th!

As always – shop small, shop local!

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