Grampy’s Gas in Beacon Hill Is Gone
The gas station, site of the beloved Villa Mexico Café, will be replaced with an office building.
After 12 years of false starts, the demolition of Grampy’s Gas is underway.
The gas station was nothing special. What the site was known for, at least for six years of its existence, was the Villa Mexico Café, a small take-out place located—inexplicably—inside Grampy’s convenience store.
Operated by Julie King, Villa Mexico was a favorite of some Beacon Hill residents as well as visitors and many employees of Massachusetts General Hospital, across the street.
Unfortunately, after the owner of the property decided to tear down the gas station, King was forced to vacate. After facing resistance from the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals when she tried to relocate around the corner, she was unable to find a suitable home for her restaurant and has remained out of business since then. Her website is still up and active and she told me she is working to reopen a new restaurant at a different location in 2015.
Opening on the site sometime in 2015 will be a five-story office building with retail and a restaurant on the first floor. The Beacon Hill Times reported last year that the Hampshire House Corporation—the company behind the Bull & Finch, 75 Chestnut, and 75 on Liberty Wharf—will be opening a new restaurant on the site to be called (naturally) 75 on Cambridge. It’s not clear if those plans are still on track.
Charles Talanian and Talanian Realty, owners of the property, first proposed to replace the gas station with condominiums back in 2002 but faced neighborhood resistance due to the building’s height and density. (Take a look at 326 Cambridge down the street to get an idea of what they feared would be repeated.) He revised his plans and received Boston Redevelopment Authority approval for a 16-unit condo project the next year. He never broke ground, however, mainly due to the extraordinarily long time it took to completely rebuild Cambridge Street. In 2008, Talanian changed course and presented a new proposal for an office building, receiving approval in 2009. Now, five years later, it’s finally going to happen.
Here’s the site, today:
And here’s Grampy’s back in its Villa Mexico days: