Food News

Two industry vets purchased the Red Hat space. Here’s what they want to do with it.

"We decided to take a leap of faith," said co-owner Keith Gleason.

The Red Hat
The Red Hat. Dana Gerber

Since 1907, the Red Hat had served as a Beacon Hill staple, ushering in thirsty patrons looking for a quick bite and a drink or two in an unfussy setting. Last weekend, the bar reportedly closed its doors, ending 114 years of business.

Now, two restaurant industry vets are hoping to breathe new life into the space, with plans to reopen the Red Hat’s doors in early fall.

Keith Gleason and Jake Nicholson have each worked for 20-plus years in the restaurant industry, and most recently co-managed the now-closed Finn McCool’s.

“The landscape of COVID-19 for the restaurant industry really started to close in on a lot of places,” Gleason told Boston.com. “[Finn McCool’s] was one of those places as well. So we saw the writing on the wall, and we were going to need to find a new place to work. We looked at the possibility of us jumping into the owner/operator space if there was an opportunity available, and Red Hat was available. We decided to take a leap of faith.”

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Paul Tupa, the Red Hat’s owner, did not respond to Boston.com’s multiple requests for comment. The bar did not make any announcements on its website or social media about the closure.

Now that they’ve purchased the space, Gleason and Nicholson said they’ll be doing some renovations, including cosmetic upgrades and potentially changing the menu. Nicholson said they still haven’t decided whether to keep the Red Hat name.

“One of the reasons that we were really attracted to it was the history,” Gleason said. “It’s not every day that you can come across a place that’s been open as a bar for 114 years, so we certainly don’t want to abandon the people that were loyal customers over the years and who have fond memories there. … It would be foolish of us to turn those people who love that space away and try to reinvent the customer base that already exists.”

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While they work on upgrading the space, Gleason and Nicholson said they have been talking with friends in the industry on a daily base, getting a sense of what customers are looking for now that restaurants are reopening.

“It’s exciting to see, even in the last month, that there’s a great response to people coming out,” Nicholson said. “Hopefully that’ll keep going. We’re going to hit the ground running in early fall, and I think the city will be back in action and ready to rock and roll.”

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