By Owen Devlin
The Warren Tavern has been a staple in the Boston community since its inception in 1780. It attracts locals from all over Boston and travelers from near and far due to its deep-rooted history, as prominent figures like George Washington and Paul Revere visited during trips to Boston. Its unique charm, electric atmosphere, delicious food and friendly staff set it apart from other eateries in the area.
The tavern is near the Bunker Hill Monument. The monument sits on the land where the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred in 1775. Its purpose is to recognize the sacrifice that soldiers made to gain American independence from the British. General Joseph Warren was among those who fought for American freedom, according to the tavern’s website.
The rumble of country music defines the atmosphere of the restaurant. The clinking of glasses, plates and silverware can be heard as people eat their meals. The voices of people engaging in different conversations often overlap one another, as the restaurant is continuously packed with people. A portrait of Washington is seen hanging on the wall to remind visitors of the impact he had on the community. Bright, natural sunlight enters from a large window overlooking the street.
Manager Kim Mahoney has been running the restaurant for 23 years and is originally from Charlestown. She started out working as a server and then became a bartender before acquiring her current position.
Mahoney says she enjoys working at the Warren Tavern because she is able to be back in the city she was born and raised in.
“When I was growing up, it was a blue-collar town and many parents worked week to week to make ends meet,” Mahoney said. “It was an honor and a privilege to grow up here, not because we had everything, but because we didn’t have anything. We made the best of what we had, built relationships and learned really great life skills to teach you how to navigate situations.”
Mahoney strives to build relationships and connections with other Boston- based communities to provide job opportunities and support to young teenagers who are struggling at home.
“Over the last 23 years, we have been able to build a staff that is family; all the employees here are local. We work very hard to go out into the neighborhoods in Charlestown and hire local kids who are in high-risk situations at home or just need a little direction in life,” Mahoney said. “We pride ourselves on offering them that opportunity and teach them the skills they need to have something they can have for the rest of their life.”
Some employees are hired in their teens and continue to work at the restaurant for many years afterward.
Mahoney says a large part of the tavern’s mission is to ensure they give back to the community in different ways, including hosting a Toys for Tots open house. During this event, the tavern is open to the public so they can drop off toys, which are given to children. The restaurant also provides assistance to a local food pantry and support to nonprofit organizations.
“We do a lot of community work. We’re full of civic engagement here at the tavern and we pride ourselves on that,” Mahoney said. “There are so many things we do in the neighborhood that our kids who work for us will eagerly jump in and help.”
There is no question about whether Warren Tavern employees recognize the face of Upton resident Dan Dewing, who is a former Charlestown resident, and was a frequent patron of the establishment and continues to stop in during visits to Boston. He says there are many elements of the restaurant that resonate, including the active, fast-paced environment.
“Charlestown is a very local, prideful neighborhood with a lot of people who love to come together and connect. I think the environment of the Warren Tavern is the best; whether that is for brunch with family, dinner with a larger group or if you’re just swinging by and going to the high tops and meeting up with friends after work one night,” Dewing said. “I think that, overall, that ambience, on top of the great food, is a big part of it.”
Dewing believes the tavern employees are familiar with the communities of Boston and Charlestown and that they have established relationships with their customers to understand how to best serve them.
“I think it’s just great service; I think that the Warren has a great understanding of their clientele. Whether it be, like I said, for brunch, dinner, a couple drinks after work. They’re always there to be on top of it. They know what their people want, they’re on top of drink service, they’re very friendly and it’s just a very hospitable place,” Dewing said.
Dewing believes people are fascinated by the rich history associated with the tavern and the local community.
“Knowing the history behind Boston, in general, and the Warren Tavern, it has a different level of excitement every time you’re in there knowing what happened in this area, the story behind General Warren and the fact that George Washington, at one point, was in that restaurant,” Dewing said.
Longtime Charlestown resident Tim Buhay, who formerly worked at the tavern part-time for two years, says he enjoyed conversing with other employees and interacting with customers.
“There were lots of laughs, fun and stories; I loved everyone down there. Between the wait staff, the cooks and the bartenders, I loved interacting with my co-workers,” Buhay said.
Buhay credits the tavern’s vibrant nightlife and the variety of food options as the reasons why patrons continue to stay loyal to one of the many mainstays in the neighborhood.
“The food is great; you know what you’re getting with the food. And then, at night, if you’re going in for drinks, you’re always going to have a fun, lively atmosphere,” Buhay said. “If you’re in the community, you know the Warren Tavern. You know it’s going to be a good time when you go. You’re going to have fun; you’re going to be greeted by staff that are glad you’re there and other patrons that are happy you’re there and want to meet you.”
Buhay believes the restaurant represents a sense of longevity for those living in the neighborhood.
“I think it symbolizes stability; it’s been there for almost 200 years. People know that when there’s two feet of snow coming down, you go down to the tavern because people will be there having fun,” Buhay said. “You know it’s always going to be a good time; you know it’s always going to be open. Mainly, I think it’s just a great place for the community where you can gather, see your friends and meet new people.”
The following feature was written by Owen Devlin, a current resident of Charlestown, a broadcast journalism major at Suffolk University in Boston. For the final project for one of his journalism courses, he wrote a story about the Warren Tavern in Charlestown.