How Boston Marathon bar crowds have changed

According to one restaurateur.

–AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Situated about halfway between the finish line and Fenway Park, Bukowski Tavern is a Patriots’ Day pregame spot for spectators of both the Boston Marathon and the traditional 11:05 a.m. Red Sox game.

The bar will fill up fast after its 10 a.m.-at-the-latest Marathon Monday opening — it always does. But owner Suzi Samowski says she’s seen two big changes in recent years about how Marathon crowds move in and out of bars near the finish line.

In the past, family members and friends of runners were more bound to the course as they waited for loved ones to come barreling toward the end. Now, thanks to apps on their smartphones, they hang out longer in the tavern — which is located just off the race route — prior to heading out to Boylston Street, Samowski said.


“Last year I had people in and out because they had runners,” she said. “Because now you can track where [the runners] are, they’ll just leave for a little while. Whereas before they didn’t really know.”

But crowds have also gotten thinner in the afternoon since the attacks on the 2013 race, Samowski said. That’s because the flow of pedestrian traffic of fans leaving Fenway after the game tends to move to avoid the security checkpoints that have been installed near the marathon course since the bombings. The restaurant usually still sees a line out the door on to Dalton Street in the afternoon, but it’s shorter than it had been in previous years, she said.

“We definitely notice the difference,” she said. “We don’t get as many people. But honestly, it’s nice.”

Massachusetts bars can serve alcohol starting at 8 a.m., and on Marathon Monday several bars along the route open around that time — or even before.

One example is located less than two miles past the starting line at TJ’s Food and Spirits in Ashland, right along the Marathon route. The restaurant, normally open at 11 a.m., kicks in to gear with breakfast at 6 a.m., according to owner Joe Tomazs. It’s crowded by 7, and there are lines to get in by the time the drinks start flowing at 8.


“It’s the busiest day of the year,” Tomasz said.

Photos: Scenes from the 2016 Boston Marathon

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