Rule #51 – Make pilgrimages.
Brace yourselves… this may come as a complete shock.
Ted Danson had a life before his D.B. Russell character on “C.S.I.”. So did Woody Harrelson (“True Detective” and “Hunger Games”), Kelsey Grammer (Mayor Tom Kane in “Boss”) and John Ratzenberger (pick a Pixar character – Hamm, Mack, Harland – he’s a Pixar fixture).
They – and many others – were on a series called “Cheers”, based on a Boston neighborhood bar where “everybody knows your name”. Each week these characters graced our lives and gave us plenty of laughs. Then the bar closed down in 1993… or did it?
Anyone who has been to Boston – 84 Beacon Street, to be exact – knows that Cheers lives on. But it doesn’t live the way it lives in our memories.
|One crazy tourist at 84 Beacon St., Boston... home of "Cheers" bar|
The exterior is just like what we see in the opening credits and the many “location” shots during the show. The sign points down to the bar. But when you get to the lower bar, it looks nothing like the set. Well, that’s because the interior was modeled after the Bull and Finch Tavern on the first floor (upstairs).
|Upstairs bar - originally the Bull and Finch Tavern - photo by Joe Knipp, used with permission|
The heck with downstairs – we wanted to eat at Cheers. It was a one hour wait for a table in the lower bar. So we wove our way upstairs and took seats at the bar itself, complete with a seating chart (teacher speak for plaques identifying the places where specific characters sat). My brother took his seat where Tommy the Lawyer sat. My nephew took Norm’s corner of the bar seat. In the show, there was booth and table seating around the bar itself. In the real bar, there’s no room for large tables. There are a few pub tables around, but nothing where you can sit down and relax. If you want table seating, you need to go to Cheers Faneuil Hall/ Quincy Market location.
|Name plate on the bar top where Tommy the Lawyer sat and made Cliff and Norm crazy|
The menu was standard pub fare, with sandwiches named after the various characters on the show. You have Sam’s Starters, Ma Clavin’s soups, Norm’s Sandwiches, and so forth. Both locations serve the same menu.
We ordered lunch from the bar. It was 100 degrees outside so we just had a burger and fries. The burgers came with lettuce, tomato, and onion, but all on the side, so you could choose to add or not to add. Portion size was generous, but not ridiculous. After drinking about a quart of water, I was able to eat and actually felt hungry. We kept the water coming and the burger and fries disappeared.
Cheers also had a great assortment of drinks and beers. Sam Adams – any variety out – was the showcase beer. Prices were competitive with other establishments.
As with any landmark, there’s the requisite gift shop. It’s stocked with bar items, memorabilia, and plenty of “I was there!” tee shirts and sweat shirts.
|Quincy Market - location of the other "Cheers" bar|
|Faneuil Hall - follow the cobblestone walk between here and Quincy Market and there is "Cheers"|
|...and I wasn't kidding about cobblestone walk ways....|
We got our chance to compare the Beacon Street location with the Faneuil Hall location on this trip. The atmosphere was just a bit different. Beacon Street has a smaller location. Faneuil Hall has a look that really resembles the set from the show. The bar is larger and is laid out in a similar way to Beacon Street’s. But there is no “seating chart” for fans to enjoy. There is downstairs seating, which is a bit quieter and off the street. The downstairs area looks just like Sam’s “back room”, complete with TV, dart board and smaller bar.
This is – without a doubt – a must-do pilgrimage for any fan of the TV show, “Cheers”. We got to go to more landmarks in town, and did it on the MTA, which is another story for another time (and soon, too). In the meantime, check your local listings for reruns of “Cheers”, so you can get to know the characters again. And check out the website, http://www.cheersboston.com/main_locations.html for more information and some of the history of the show.
When you visit either location, don’t worry if nobody knows your name when you walk in. They will know you by the time you leave – it’s that much fun.
All photographs are the property of Marge McGugan, unless noted otherwise. No use or reproduction without written permission.