Olde Boston’s reopens
Restaurant & pub was closed due to water leak
First it was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Then in the spring of 2021 it was a water leak.
The past couple of years have been less than 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 spots being downtown for carside that our other two locations had but we battled through that. We made some adjustments. We pivoted very fast and we were able to make it out of COVID and we were doing well and then this happened with the leaky roof, but we are out of it now and things are 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 above the Olde Boston’s that caused enough damage that the restaurant decided to close to make the needed repairs.
“We had a water leak from the floor above us,” Payne said. “We had to gut everything from the ceiling all the way back, the whole kitchen, remove the hoods. The kitchen was completely gutted from front to back.”
Olde Boston’s reopened on July 19, over three months after it closed.
“We didn’t change a whole lot,” Payne said. “It was mainly because of the insurance. We had new booths installed. We went on our own and remodeled the bar area and purchased new chairs that aren’t here yet.”
The closure allowed a chance to refresh the restaurant and add some new items to the menu.
One of those items is street tacos, which come in three different varieties: blackened salmon, carne asada and brisket.
The Philly Cheesesteak has also been added.
“Those have been huge hits,” Payne said.
Boston Bites, which are bacon wrapped chicken breast and water chestnuts covered in a special teriyaki glaze, and the spinach dip are a couple of signature appetizers served up 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 lettuce mix with balsamic vinaigrette, and the Blazing Bulldog Burger (bacon, onion rings and pepperjack cheese smothered with homemade chipotle barbecue sauce) are other examples of Fort Dodge favorites.
About 30 people are currently employed at Olde Boston’s, although Payne said the restaurant typically likes to employ closer to 40. Lily Hemrick is front of house manager.
Payne has been involved at Olde Boston’s for 25 years. The restaurant was founded in 1981 as Marvin Gardens. At that time the owners were Jim Bird and Payne’s father, Tom Payne.
It was remodeled and rebranded as Olde Boston’s in 2009. Payne and Battcher became part owners in 2020.
The name Olde Boston’s was inspired by the Boston Store, a large department store that occupied space downtown.
“It was kind of like Sears,” Payne said. “It had everything. We wanted to bring back some of that nostalgia.”
The Boston Store began in 1898 as Davidson Brothers’ Store. It was first located at 526 Central Ave.
In 1900, Adolph Tuerke purchased the Davidson Brothers’ Store in Fort Dodge and renamed it. The store was doing so well that in 1902, it expanded to have a second entrance on North Sixth Street.
The store moved in September 1914 to the building which still bears its name, the Boston Centre.
When this store opened in its final location, it occupied four floors and the basement. The upper two floors were offices. The store included a tea room.
In September 1922, the store suffered a devastating fire. The fire also damaged the buildings on either side. Louis Charon was in Europe when the fire happened and received a telegram informing him of the fire when he docked in New York.
With the remodel of the store, it expanded to include the top two floors for merchandise, instead of the offices that had been there.
Today, the building contains offices and Olde Boston’s.
Payne said the combination of a great atmosphere and affordable prices makes Olde Boston’s a great restaurant to visit.
“Our casual atmosphere, the coziness of it,” he said. “Our affordable pricing.”
Being located downtown has been special.
“We have been recognized in the downtown since 1981,” Payne said. “Downtown has always been a special place for all of us. It’s where we started. We have gone through the ups and downs of downtown.”
Payne said he believes the restaurant is experiencing an up in 2021.
“I would say we are on an up,” Payne said. “There’s been a lot of redevelopment that’s been exciting. I’ve been seeing more people move into offices at least into our buildings and the buildings next to us.”
It’s a satisfying feeling for Payne when people come to enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
“It’s the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people on maybe a special event or a night out, the satisfaction of them getting a good meal, whether it’s catering someone’s wedding,” Payne said. “That type of stuff. We partner with Fort Frenzy. We cater about 30 weddings a year.”
Payne said consistency has led to success for Olde Boston’s.
“Consistency, good service, consistently good food,” he said. “Those are the keys. And being locally owned has always been big. After 40 years we are still operational, still going strong.”