Dorchester prepares to say goodbye to Ashmont Grill


“We are choosing to control our own destiny and go out in style.”

Restaurant patrons eat at fireside seating on the outdoor patio at Ashmont Grill in Dorchester. Josh Reynolds/The Boston Globe

Ashmont Grill, which has been a staple in the Dorchester community for 18 years, will close its doors sometime in February, general manager Tara O’Riordan said. With it, the longest-running $1 Duxbury oyster night in the neighborhood ends, according to to your website.

But O’Riordan said this is not the time to cry.

“We don’t really think of it as a funeral. It’s more like a celebration,” O’Riordan said. “Let’s celebrate all we’ve done and all we’ve meant to each other over the next two weeks.”

Chef Chris Douglass, who founded Ashmont Grill, said he bought the space at 555 Talbot Ave because there was nothing like it.

“I had young children and I met a lot of other young parents at that stage and they all wanted a restaurant and asked me to consider opening one, so I did,” said Douglass, who is also the owner. tablewhich is located next to Ashmont Grill.

He described Ashmont Grill as an “everyday restaurant” where people go weekly to hang out with friends.

“Something open and warm and welcoming,” Douglass said. “I think it provided a real meeting place, a real opportunity for people to come together, for different members of the community, a lot of different demographics to hang out in the same place, rub shoulders and mingle.”

Nearly two decades later, Douglass said he’s ready to take a step back from work and look toward retirement, though not in the immediate future. He said that he has been open for so long and others have also started to show interest in moving forward, so it makes sense to close shop.

O’Riordan said of the decision: “We opted to control our own destiny and go out in style.”

Jenn Cartee, former CEO of Greater Ashmont Main Streets, has worked with Ashmont Grill and been a patron for years.

She said the shutdown hits close to home because she can remember sitting in the front booth of the restaurant poring over real estate listings as she prepared to move into the neighborhood. Since then, Cartee said Ashmont Grill has been a go-to for the family.

“We’ve had parties there,” Cartee said. “We have had birthdays. We’ve had tough times over the years where we’ve also found solace there with friends and other people we’ve gotten to know from the neighborhood because of their connection to the Grill, to the Grill staff.”

O’Riordan said that, like Boston’s famous “Cheers” quote, the staff tried to truly make it “a place where everyone knows your name.” Anyone who came to Ashmont Grill was bound to have a “great experience,” he added.

When the restaurant set out to do a once-a-month wine club, it became a weekly event where “the same people would come over and over again,” sparking a years-long tradition, O’Riordan said. When a $1 oyster night started, the same thing happened.

“It’s just that kind of thing,” he said. “We have had people get married, families, people have children, some of the neighborhood kids have even grown up to work for us.”

But the restaurant provided more than just service to paying customers. Cartee said Ashmont Grill frequently partnered with the community at events, and during the pandemic, even stepped up to provide food aid and grocery distribution.

“We can always turn to them for not only their willingness to help, but for dipping deep into themselves to make it all work,” Cartee said.

It’s not yet clear who will take over the space when Ashmont Grill leaves, but Douglass said they’re looking at a proposal to fill the void.

“We hope to find a restaurant operator that wants to implement a concept that fits the community,” he said, adding that ultimately the decision will come down to whoever takes control.

Meanwhile, O’Riordan said now is the time for all the regulars and everyone else to come together, eat, have a drink and “make more memories.”

“We’re going to have some parties and we really want to see everyone one more time or even three more times, five more times,” O’Riordan said. “Come on.”

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