date published: March 12, 2007

5 questions with...

Gerry Burke
by Marketa Hulpachova

Gerry Burke’s involvement with the legendary Boston Irish watering hole known as Doyle’s Café (3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2345) dates back to Prohibition, when his bootlegging grandfather supplied the saloon with booze. After 35 years as the pub’s owner, Burke sits down with Panorama to share his tales of beer, bars and politicians.

Q: What is Doyle’s like on a typical St. Patrick’s Day?
The whole week of St. Pat’s is crazy here. Anybody who’s anybody comes here—people from the Irish ministry, the Irish Chamber of Commerce. The guys from the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums always put on a show.

Q: Your son Gerry, Jr. appeared in the national Sam Adams commercial. What’s Doyle’s’ affiliation with the brewery?
Jim Koch, who started Sam Adams, walked in here with a six-pack of his beer in 1985. Doyle’s was the first outlet in America to serve Sam Adams—it put us on the map. Whenever they come out with a new brew, we’re still the first to have it on tap.

Q: Besides Doyle’s, what is your favorite drinking spot in Boston?
J.J. Foley’s (117 E. Berkeley St., 617-728-0315) in the South End—it’s a real Irish working man’s bar.

Q: Of all the political luminaries that have passed through Doyle’s, who stands out in your mind?
I have to say [Boston Mayor] Tommy Menino knows more about present-day Ireland than most people. We went over there in 1995 and had the time of our lives—we had a reception at Belfast City Hall, and the entire Boston delegation sang “God Save the Queen.” It was a riot.

Q: Every corner of Doyle’s is full of history. Do you have a favorite nook?
This corner right here by the entrance—we call it “Governor’s Row.” I can sit there and be like a traffic cop, see who comes in. It’s where I “hold court.”