Mourning Columbus Café: I Lost My Neighborhood Local

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When a few friends and I saw the patio furniture in front of 535 Columbus being taken away by movers on the Fourth of July, we looked at each other with panicked sadness. A married couple, my buddies live directly across from me and above Columbus Café, something which I now have to refer to in the past tense. Columbus Café was one of these places where I wouldn’t mind third-wheeling it with the two of them over drinks on the sidewalk of the great (late) South End joint. Reasonably-priced, tasty comfort food, calming atmosphere and just enough regulars that it was a great place when “well, we should do something” was on the tips of our tongues.

The closing happened quickly – or maybe I was just pretending to ignore that there may have been a reason that the patio had been incredibly popular the last few weeks. There was some talk in the neighborhood and foodie circle that the place was supposed to close last November when the lease ran out, to be replaced by a new joint from the Toro/Coppa owner, Jamie Bissonnette. Yet, this time around, no one seems to have published any info.

We’ll leave the restaurant lease combing to the professionals. I have much more pressing problems: It’s been two months and I’m still not over the fact that I lost my local.

I had been hitting up Columbus Café less regularly in those days than when I first moved down to the South End last year, but I still would think of the bar as a place I could call my go-to in the Columbus Ave strip of storefronts around West Newton. Seriously, I can see the empty space of CC from my stoop, yet it isn’t even the closest establishment (that title goes to House of Siam). It was the brunch spot last Labor Day that a few friends of mine, after a mimosa or two, decided that we should spend our last weekend day of the holiday adventuring to Canobie Lake Park. In the winter months, an Old Fashioned in the dark bar went perfectly with the fact that I could order the nightcap and have my own bathroom to use if the line was long for the solo-head in the double-sided, dimly lit restaurant.

Maybe it’s because I walked past the back door to the kitchen every day coming from the Mass Ave T station. Or the fact that the aforementioned couple would give me a run for my money in terms of who could get there the fastest. There are other places with patios within two blocks (Jae’s and Petit Robert’s South End location), but there was always something to see from the corner of Columbus and Claremont, and I made it somewhere to call mine.

Somewhere in the realm of being twentysomething and living in the city, this is one of those problems that you would ironically hashtag to mock me. But hear me out. I thought I got over this now that the college days are well in the rear view; just about every Allston bar we used to frequent on Harvard Ave now has a different name. Now that I’m adult, I’m looking for some consistency, even in such trivial things as my bars.

Bissonnette or not, a new restaurant will likely take over the space. Perhaps it’ll even put sports on the TV, or maybe it’ll be some other sort of novelty. As long as that patio opens up again or the snow forces me to stay within eye-line of my apartment, I’ll be there. It won’t be without remembering the lesson in adult-life that the world isn’t planning on stopping to change anytime soon.