Earl of Sandwich to open shop on Boston Common
Florida-based restaurant chain Earl of Sandwich has begun renovating the Boston Common's Pink Palace, once a public restroom, into a new location for the franchise. The city of Boston would receive an annual payment of $50,000 during the 15-year lease.
The lease announcement between Earl of Sandwich and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) was controversial when it was announced last August because of the special history of the building itself.
The 660-square foot octagonal Pink Palace was built in the 1920s for use as a "men's comfort station" but has been closed to the public since the 1970s. The building is on the Common between the tennis courts and the Parkman Bandstand, a highly visible area that currently lacks commercial services.
Jacquelyn Goddard, the BPRD's external affairs and communications director said, "We're very excited about it. It'll give an activity to that part of the common, that part of the park has been relatively dormant for many years. I feel like it'll bring a lot of attention and excitement to an area that would otherwise just slowly be forgotten about."
Construction is well under way in the heavily trafficked area of the park but all the work has been organized to avoid inconveniencing the surrounding pedestrian areas. According to a statement released by the Parks and Recreation Department, the only disruption will be a slight adjustment to a pedestrian-made foot path and the removal of a single tree under the City Arborist.
Students who attend school in the area had mixed reviews on the new food shop.
"I feel like [this is] their way of buying out the city...which is kind of giving people the message that with a certain price you can do anything," Kyna Doles, a journalism senior at Emerson college said. "I think people should stand up against that and say 'no', we have to protect the limited public space we do have in a city."
Colin Zick, chair of the parks and public spaces committee of the Beacon Hill Civic Association has been in favor of using the neglected space to sell food for years. He said he believes in a growing trend for more amenities in the park with the recent addition of food trucks and traditional hot dog and refreshment stands.
"There is a desire from the users," Zick said. "There is going to be a lot more service in that park."
City officials appeared supportive of the project and showed excitement for the new commercial space. Friends of the Public Garden (FPG), a citizen-run nonprofit based in Beacon Hill, also stands behind the BPRD in this venture.
"This building has been kind of a decaying and dead building in the Common for many years. It will be great to have some activity in there," said Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, in an interview with boston.com.
For Zick, a main worry regarding this new business is if it will prove to be as lucrative as everyone hopes.
"The hope is that people who live and work around there will want to have a sandwich and sit out. But we are in Boston, we don't get many days like that," Zick said. "I just don't know if there is enough business there on the colder days."
The sandwich chain, which highlights the portability of their healthy food options, will cover the costs of the renovations at their own expense. Renovation costs are estimated to be $750,000 by the time the shop aims to open for business in the Summer of 2013.
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