First it was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Then in spring 2021 it was a water leak.
The past few years have been far from ideal for Olde Boston’s Restaurant & Pub, 809 Central Ave., a longtime staple of downtown Fort Dodge.
“COVID was obviously tough” said Michael Payne, owner / manager of the restaurant. “We didn’t have the space in the city center for cars like our other two locations, but we fought our way through. We made some adjustments. We spun very quickly and were able to get it out of COVID and we were fine and then what happened with the leaky roof, but now we’re out and it’s going well. “
Payne owns Olde Boston’s, Sports Page and Mineral City with business partners Jim Bird and Luke Battcher.
In April there was a water leak over the Olde Boston’s that caused so much damage that the restaurant decided to make the necessary repairs.
“We had a water leak from the floor above us” said Payne. “We had to hollow out everything from the ceiling to the back, remove the whole kitchen, remove the hoods. The kitchen was completely gutted from front to back. “
Olde Boston’s reopened on July 19, more than three months after it closed.
“We haven’t changed much” said Payne. “That was mainly due to the insurance. We have had new cabins installed. We went alone and remodeled the bar area and bought new chairs that weren’t there yet. “
The closure made it possible to freshen up the restaurant and add some new dishes to the menu.
One of these items is street tacos, which come in three different flavors: blackened salmon, carne asada, and brisket.
The Philly cheesesteak was also added.
“Those were big hits” said Payne.
Boston Bites, which are chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and water chestnuts coated with a special teriyaki glaze, and the spinach dip are some of the signature starters served at Olde Boston’s.
Payne described them as “Must-haves.”
The Boston Salad, which includes grilled chicken, strawberries, almonds, craisins, feta cheese, tomatoes, and a spring salad mix with balsamic vinaigrette, and the Blazing Bulldog Burger (bacon, onion rings, and pepperjack cheese with homemade chipotle barbecue) Sauce) are other examples of Fort Dodge favorites.
About 30 people are currently employed at the Olde Boston’s, though Payne said the restaurant typically likes to employ 40 people. Lily Hemrick is the front-of-house manager.
Payne has been with Olde Boston for 25 years. The restaurant was founded as Marvin Gardens in 1981. At the time, the owners were Jim Bird and Payne’s father, Tom Payne.
It was remodeled in 2009 and renamed Olde Boston’s. Payne and Battcher became partners in 2020.
The name Olde Boston’s was inspired by the Boston Store, a large department store that took up space in the downtown area.
“It was a bit like Sears” said Payne. “It had everything. We wanted to bring back some of this nostalgia. “
The Boston Store began as the Davidson Brothers’ Store in 1898. It was first located at 526 Central Ave.
In 1900 Adolph Tuerke bought the Davidson Brothers’ store in Fort Dodge and renamed it. The store did so well that it was expanded to include a second entrance on North Sixth Street in 1902.
In September 1914, the store moved to the building that still bears his name, the Boston Center.
When this store opened in its final location, it comprised four floors and the basement. The top two floors were offices. The shop included a tea room.
In September 1922 the shop suffered a devastating fire. The fire also damaged the buildings on both sides. Louis Charon was in Europe when the fire broke out and received a telegram informing him of the fire when he docked in New York.
With the renovation of the shop, it was expanded to include the upper two floors for goods instead of the previous offices.
Today the building contains Boston’s offices and Olde.
Payne said the combination of a great atmosphere and affordable prices makes Olde Boston a great restaurant to visit.
“Our casual atmosphere, the cosiness”, he said. “Our low prices.”
The downtown location was special.
“We have been recognized in the city center since 1981” said Payne. “The city center has always been a special place for all of us. We started here. We went through the ups and downs of the city center. “
Payne said he believes the restaurant will see an upturn in 2021.
“I would say we are on the up” said Payne. “There were many new developments that were exciting. I’ve seen more people move into offices, at least in our buildings and the buildings next to us. “
Payne feels satisfied when people come over to enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
“It’s the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping people on a special occasion or an evening, the satisfaction of getting a good meal, whether it’s someone’s wedding.” said Payne. “Such things. We work with Fort Frenzy. We look after around 30 weddings a year. “
Payne said persistence led to success for Olde Boston.
“Consistency, good service, consistently good food” he said. “Those are the keys. And being locally owned has always been great. After 40 years we are still operational, still strong. “
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