What’s Happening on Main Street

Malcolm Butler’s timely interception was matched by an equally impressive one made by Police Commissioner Bill Evans following Boston’s Super Bowl victory. I’m not sure which amazed me more.

Super Sunday found me visiting local merchants to gauge the commercial impact of the big game to our local economy’s take-out business on the Hill. Delivery vehicles and empty buses and trolleys seemed to be the only things astir on Mission Hill’s main streets. By the second quarter, the buckets, platters and pies had all reached their destinations to apartments with that distinctive dancing television glow from their windows. Montecristo owner Otto Hernandez looked and sounded a lot like MVP Tom Brady on one of the Spanish language channels when I met him as he praised his exhausted staff for their teamwork and focus. Otto and several others told me business was terrific.

I wished to observe for myself how the various pouring establishments were handling what I had incorrectly assumed would be scenes reminiscent of major sporting events in years gone by. However, I was thoroughly impressed by how each and everyone one made me proud to be associated with the Mission Hill commercial district! Most places had some cute sort of special, and nowhere did I observe rowdy crowds standing and screaming. Bar managers spoke about catering to their regular customers, and several indicated that they reserved tables for the night.

Penguin Pizza featured 20-cent wings (10 for $2) and manager Andrew Smith proudly displayed his pizza specials. The aptly named Gronk Slice was a huge quarter-pie made with “everything that could fit in Gronk’s big mouth!” At $3.50, they sold like crazy. The Mission featured 25-cent wings, and their great menu draws a crowd every night.

Both the Crossing and Flann’s featured large platters of complementary finger food to packed tables of locals. Crossing owner John O’Sullivan said he realized that his place would have been overrun with fair-weather football fans if he didn’t reserve tables for his most loyal regulars. He said,“We have a nice dynamic here, like that ‘Cheers’ bar , but real life!”

Flann’s owner Tony O’Brien was working the stick and gave me the old Irish publican’s jibe: “That t’was not a strange face in the place a’cept ’n yours.”

The Squealing Pig staff all donned Patriot’s gear, and bartender Patrick Harrity boasted that his secret recipe for ceviche (a seafood dish made of raw tuna, jalapenos, green and red peppers, lime juice and other goodies served over tortillas), along with some exotic beers, made a huge hit with his customers.

TGI Friday’s had a large family crowd (and the most TVs) with their “cut back or cut loose” dine-and-drink $10 special. Glow sticks and noise rattles they issued made each yardage gain seem more important, while raffles of stemware and T-shirts capped each quarter. Friday’s manager Laura DaSilva said, “Our customers love a party, and after all that snow, I think they’re thrilled to be out!”

Numerous police patrols were visible throughout the evening. At one point, I ran into Boston Police Superintendent Bob Merner, who stopped to talk with me and said he was headed to command the tactics of the citywide response in Kenmore Square. I asked, “What are you doing here?”

The superintendent whispered, “I’m always sticking my nose in over here…Mission Hill is home and I love it. You’ve got a great captain with John Davin, but I just can’t seem to help myself…I’ve been that way about the old neighborhood since I joined the force in ’86!”

I told him, “Believe me, the old neighborhood appreciates it.” Bob told me that the City policy was to “nip any potential problem early, with every scenario worked out in advance and the key to success will be communication, preparedness and adaptability.” Evans’ playbook sounds a lot like Belichick’s.

I felt melancholy when I realized that this past Jan. 31 would have marked former Representative Kevin W. Fitzgerald’s 65th birthday.  It seems I miss him even more as years go by, and I know that sentiment is shared by a legion of others who loved him. My wife Susan shared with me a Facebook posting by Kevin’s breathtakingly beautiful daughter Madeline about the Team Kevin Fitz Pan-Mass Challenge event supporting cancer research at Dana-Farber. Kevin’s special spirit lives on through his children.

Finally, I ran into Representative Jeffrey Sanchez soon after the 45 Wigglesworth St. meeting at Mission Church, where I complimented him on his fire-breathing speech about the Chicago developer, Equity Partners. He told me he received a ration of calls about term limits on House Speaker Bob DeLeo and asked me was it like that when I was in the House in the early 1980s. I told him I lived through the McGee-Keverian battles and advised him to stay loyal to the one who is loyal to you and your district—and the one person best equipped to battle for your district with the Senate and the executive. He smiled and said, “I did.”

The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.

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