Locke-Ober restaurant is closed for business

Locke-Ober, the landmark Boston restaurant that opened in 1875, has closed indefinitely.

A sign posted inside the eatery’s glass front door Saturday night said the restaurant is “currently closed for business, pending Locke-Ober’s sale of its buildings located at Winter Place.”

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The sign was addressed “to our loyal and valued customers” and included thanks for their support and a wish that “the many warm memories we have shared within” would live on.

Inside the restaurant, a party appeared to be taking place inside the restaurant, with more than a dozen people gathered around the bar, several wearing white chefs’ tunics.

A man who responded to a reporter’s knock at the door shortly after 11 p.m. shook his head and returned to the party when the reporter identified himself. The man later returned to the window and instructed the reporter to leave.

Phone calls to the restaurant went unanswered Saturday night, and the Open Table restaurant reservation website would not accept reservations until Dec. 1.

News of the closing spread through online social media Saturday evening. Patrick Maguire, who works at nearby restaurant jm Curley, posted a message on Facebook reading, “Locke Ober is closing at 7:30 tonight for good. Good luck on next chapter to everyone affiliated.”

Other posts on Facebook, Twitter, and local restaurant blogs also mentioned the closure and noted the restaurant’s long history.

Over its 137 years in business, Locke-Ober has attracted local and international celebrities from the world of politics — such as John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton — to film and television stars such as Paul Newman, James Cagney, and Jackie Gleason.

In 2001, celebrity chef Lydia Shire and business partner Paul Licari took over Locke-Ober and embarked on a much-lauded restoration, but they had difficulty returning the restaurant to its former glory.

The restaurant suspended lunch service in 2009 and closed briefly in 2011, after Shire’s departure and the return of previous owner David Ray, to renovate and introduce a new chef, according to Boston Globe articles at the time. The restaurant reopened in April 2011.