Tavern Road Wants Your Bar Tools for a Ryan McGrale Memorial

A Fort Point artist needs bar tools donated by December 1 to create the installation.
Ryan McGrale

Ryan McGrale at Tavern Road / Photo via Tavern Road on Facebook

Just more than a year after his sudden death shocked the restaurant industry, Ryan McGrale’s fun-loving personality and dedication to his job will be memorialized at the bar that knew him best. Tavern Road needs the community’s help to populate the Wall Project at Tavern Road, an art installation by artist Todd Pavlisko, featuring McGrale’s personal belongings and others’ tools of the trade.

Louis DiBiccari, chef/owner of the Fort Point restaurant that McGrale helped open in 2012, made the plea on Instagram over the weekend.

He wrote:

Ryan’s belongings that made him such an influential person in our little restaurant family at Tavern Road have been stored away. Waiting for us to have the vision and the strength to know what to do with them. How to respect them with the same raw emotion that he displayed as part of who he was and the mark he has forever left on our home. “The Wall Project at Tavern Road” will be about all of you. It will be about his friends, his colleagues, his mentors, his guests and his brothers in arms. It will be about an industry that he touched beyond the Charles, past the Common, inside and outside the city he called home and will reach as far as we can take it. Ryan was the bridge that connected an industry to Boston from everywhere else he went and everyone he met.

Taking over a wall to the side of the bar that McGrale called “the mosh pit,” the art wall be anchored by McGrale’s apron, DiBiccari said in his post.

“He wore the apron every night,” the chef says. “We have wanted to do something [to honor McGrale] for awhile, but we thought, ‘How do we do it so it isn’t sad?’ We realized that by keeping his name off of it, but creating something that commemorates bartending in general, is how to do it. Anyone who comes in and doesn’t know what we’ve been through in the past year will just see a beautiful art piece.”

The public plea on social media is meant to reach bartenders across the United States, DiBiccari says. After formative years at No. 9 Park, McGrale moved to New York City and had leadership roles at some of the top cocktail bars, including Flatiron Lounge and the Clover Club. When he came back to Boston to open Tavern Road, McGrale continued to develop those networks.

“He had industry nights here where we had some of the best bartenders in the country, from Denver, San Francisco, New York, shaking behind our bar,” DiBiccari says. “His arms spread so much further than people realize. We want people to contribute from everywhere. We want the narrative to be the way Ryan lived his life is represented here on this wall.”

Tavern Road is asking for friends of McGrale’s, industry colleagues, and anyone else who feels inspired to share spoons, jiggers, paring knives, and “anything you want us to include in our project” by December 1.

Tavern Road, 343 Congress St., Boston, 617-790-0808, tavernroad.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com