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Cheers, the famous bar in Boston "where everybody knows your name" turns out to be...well, not quite what you might expect.



Cheers = Bull & Finch Pub

The bar called Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, is actually the Bull & Finch Pub in the basement of the upscale Hampshire House restaurant on Beacon Street just off Boston Common, facing Boston's famous Public Garden.

The bar was chosen as the fictional setting for Cheers, the popular American situation-comedy television series broadcast from 1982 to 1993.

With Sam, Woody and Diane or Rebecca behind the bar, Norm and Cliff as fixtures at the far end, Lilith and Frasier drifting in for a sharp-edged verbal duel, and acid-tongued Carla making sure patrons know their place, the TV show was an incredible worldwide success.

Cheers started its eleven-year run with audience ratings so low that it was nearly cancelled in its first season. Instead, it ran from 1982 to 1993, and its 273 episodes are still regularly broadcast around the world, translated into dozens of languages.

Visiting Cheers

So an awful lot of people who come to New England want to visit Cheers in Boston. It's easy to visit: the Hampshire House and its basement bar are at 84 Beacon Street, corner of Brimmer Street, on the north side of the Public Garden (map).

You'll hear accents from all over the USA and indeed languages from around the world.

That's fine. It's fun! But keep in mind that:

—The only part that the actual bar played in the series was as a fictional setting: the opening scene in each episode shows the building's exterior, but...

—The series was not filmed at Cheers Bar in Boston, but on a set in a TV studio in Los Angeles. The crowded, cramped interior of the actual Boston bar looks nothing like the spacious LA set.

None of the actors will be there when you visit.

Nobody Knows Your Name...

In fact, ironically, today's Cheers Bar is really the place "where nobody knows your name" because the clientele is mostly tourists and other one-time visitors, not local regulars.

As a world-famous tourist site, expect higher prices than at comparable, less-famous taverns in Boston.

On my last visit, the service at Cheers was polite, friendly and efficient, the frosted mug of draft beer refreshing, but the fried clam plate lukewarm, mediocre and expensive. It was a busy Sunday in August and no doubt the kitchen staff was overworked, but I would have been better off with just the drink.

Come to think of it, how many times do you see the regulars in Cheers, the TV series, dining at the bar?

In any case, the food is probably better when the bar is less busy, which is...when?

Maybe never...

Anyway, you'll probably enjoy your visit,...even if no one there knows your name.

The Replica: Fiction = Reality

Milking the concept, the owners of the original Bull & Finch/Cheers pub opened a replica of the Cheers TV set in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The Replica, as it's named, in the Quincy Market South building, seeks to help Cheers lovers to imagine themselves in thatfriendly, fictional world of interpersonal conflict and humor.


The original Cheers, on Beacon Street and The Replica at Faneuil Hall Marketplace are both open every day except Christmas Day from 11 am. Children are welcome until 10 pm, after which it's 21+ only. Reservations are accepted only for parties of 15 or more. (Hampshire House, by the way, is now a function hall for private and corporate gatherings.)

Cheers Bar in Boston (Beacon Hill)
84 Beacon Street (map)
Boston MA 02108
Tel 617-227-9605

—by Tom Brosnahan

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Entrance to Cheers Pub, Boston MA

The stairway down to Cheers.

Original Cheers Pub, Boston MA

The bar: doesn't look like the TV set...
or The Replica.

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