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Story #56Mr. Dooley’s Boston TavernBoston, MA

It was really important to my dad to create an atmosphere where everyone felt welcome. So, that’s what he did.

The Somers family owns eight bars in Boston, but there is something undeniably special about the first, Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. John Joe Somers founded Mr. Dooley’s in 1991, wanting to bring an authentic Irish pub to downtown Boston. After his passing, his family took over the business and they are honoring his legacy by staying true to his original vision for the bar. Mr. Dooley’s is a place to have “a pint and a chat,” listen to Irish music, and feel like you’ve stepped into a bar in Ireland.

John Joe Somers came to the United States when he was 19 years old and fell in love. He married Ann Somers and they made a home for themselves in Boston. Mr. Dooley’s was a way for him to bring a bit of Ireland over to the states in a way that paints a true picture of Irish culture. A former musician and entertainer, his spirit is very much alive in the beloved bar, which features nightly live music and “the best pour of Guinness in Boston.”

Of the many things Noelle Somers learned from her father, one that stands out is to “always give people a chance.” It’s something that was very important to him when hiring staff, particularly when helping other kids like himself who came to the US from Ireland. As a result, the staff at Mr. Dooley’s is incredibly loyal, and some have been there for over two decades. That’s a rare thing to find in the industry, and Noelle Somers says is “a real testament to my dad.”

Since founding Mr. Dooley’s, the Somers family has opened seven different bars in Boston. Despite their growth in business, don’t expect Mr. Dooley’s to change at all. For Noelle Somers and the rest of the family, staying true to the legacy her father left behind is of the utmost importance, followed by keeping the Irish culture alive in Boston.

“I think that’s why people really love Dooley’s,” says Noelle Somers. “Because they feel like they’ve stepped into a bar in Ireland. And it’s a place where you can have a lawyer sitting next to a construction worker, and they’re having a great conversation.”

 

Photos by Christina Clusiau

  • Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern, located at 77 Broad Street in Boston’s financial district.

  • Siblings Noelle Somers, Kristine Higgins, and Sean Somers pose with a photograph of their late father at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern.

  • Sunday’s Well plays at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. Founder John Joe Somers was a musician and entertainer for 25 years, and always wanted to fill his bar with music, particularly Irish music.

  • Patrons hanging out at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern.

  • John Joe Somers wanted Mr. Dooley’s to be a place that authentically celebrates Irish culture through music and arts - you won’t find any shamrocks or leprechauns here.

  • Patrons sit at the bar at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. Mr. Dooley's is also a place where people can come together, celebrate, and enjoy each other's company. Noelle Somers says, "it was really important to my dad to create an atmosphere where everyone felt welcome. And that's what he did."

  • A bartender at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern pours a pint behind the bar. John Joe Somers saw one of his roles in the community as an employer, and would often hire kids much like himself who came over to the United States and needed help getting their footing.

  • Terry Nixon, bartender at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern, holds a pint of Guinness behind the bar.

  • A bartender pours a pint of Guinness at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. Many claim that Mr. Dooley’s serves up the best pint of Guinness in the Northeast, if not all of the US.

  • A photograph of John Joe Somers hangs at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. Somers was a beloved member of the Boston and Irish community, and in addition to owning Mr. Dooley’s and other bars in the city, he was a musician and entertainer for more than 25 years.

  • Noelle Somers dines at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. After her father’s passing, she, her mother Ann and siblings took the reins of the family business to keep his dream for Mr. Dooley’s alive.

  • Patrons dine at Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern.

  • Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern in the financial district of Boston, Mass. John Joe Somers founded Mr. Dooley’s in 1991, wanting to bring an authentic Irish pub to downtown Boston.

Business Details

Proprietor: The Somers Family
77 Broad St. Boston, MA 02109
PH: 617-338-5656 / Website
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