Whitey Bulger’s Southie of Black Mass Is Gone

Since the mobster fled Boston, the Seaport became a place worth visiting.
Image via Warner Bros.

Image via Warner Bros.

The first trailer for Black Mass debuted last week, complete with Johnny Depp sporting eerie blue contacts, a lengthy discussion about steak marinade, and a caterpillar sitting atop Adam Scott’s lip. The film is an adaptation of Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s New York Times bestselling book of the same name, detailing the Boston FBI’s Faustian bargain with notorious mobster and informant Whitey Bulger.

Quite a bit has changed since Bulger ruled Boston’s underworld while his brother Billy, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in Black Mass, reigned over the State Senate. So much, in fact, that filmmakers took to Inman Square in Cambridge to recreate Bulger’s infamous Southie hangout, the Triple O’s Lounge.

Known as the Transit Cafe until owner Donald Killeen was torn to shreds by machine gun fire in Framingham, the Triple O’s, located across the street from the Broadway T stop, was a hotspot for precisely the sort of behavior Bulger was known for. It was Killeen who bit off a rival gang member’s nose and spat it out before returning inside to celebrate. Kevin O’Neill, one of Bulger’s associates, took over the Irish pub upon Killeen’s death and in 2000, gave up his share to cooperate in federal investigations.

Since then, a number of restaurants have occupied the space at 28 W. Broadway–most recently Owl Station Bar and Bistro, a now defunct sushi joint. A 14-story, 156-room, $35 million boutique hotel has been proposed and would be erected on that block. Across the street stands Southie’s first Starbucks–a harbinger of gentrification, according to some.

Southie’s once odiferous waterfront has since been rechristened the Seaport District, rife with gleaming blue glass and innovation bros. Northern Avenue, now festooned with any number of Legal Seafoods spin-offs, was where Bulger allegedly shot and killed Brian Halloran and Michael Donahue in 1982. Four years later, the guys behind Harpoon Brewery, now located at 306 Northern Ave., received their first brewing permit. Louis, the high-end Newbury Street boutique where Bulger purchased his finest suits, has moved to the Seaport.

All is not lost. Beyond Southie, Busy Bee Restaurant–a longtime favorite of Brookliners and Boston University’s South Campus residents alike for its dirt-cheap diner fare–still stands at 1046 Beacon Street. It was there, where State Police bugged a napkin holder to listen in on Bulger associates Steve “The Rifleman” Flemmi, played by Rory Cochrane, and “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. Salemme even met with David Boeri there during the latter’s time on the Bulger beat for WGBH.

Never mind the Whole Foods a couple doors down.


Kyle Scott Clauss Kyle Clauss, Digital News Writer at Boston Magazine bmagdigital+kclauss@gmail.com


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