Medieval Manor Will Close for Good This Winter
After 42 years of providing truly alternative, original entertainment in Boston, the theater-restaurant Medieval Manor will close at the end of this year.
“The future is a mystery to everyone, including us,” says owner Don Akin, who originally founded the dinner theater in the basement of the Eliot Hotel in 1973. “We regret not being able to continue. We are very grateful for our loyal customers.”
The PG-13 nightclub, which moved to its current, South End location on East Berkeley Street in 1982, is not a “knightclub,” Akin clarified. “There are no horses, and no horse manure,” he says, addressing a common belief that his independent theatre is related to Medieval Times, the dinner tournament immortalized in the 2004 film Garden State. Medieval Manor presents weekly shows set in Canterbury, accompanied by a six-course feast and a flagon of drink. Pepper cheese trenchers, mussels, faux dragon soup, beef ribs, herbed chicken, and vegetables are meant to be eaten with hands, so no utensils come to the communal tables.
The original show was penned by Emerson College professor, Sheldon Feldner, and Akin says many actors in the troupe have been on Medieval Manor’s stage for more than a decade, some even since the 1970s. Michael Chiklis, a Lowell-born actor best known for playing the Thing in Fantastic Four, is an alum, Akin says. There have been more than 13,000 performances, and a million customers, he added.
The closure is for financial reasons, namely that Medieval Manor has sold its liquor license to pay off debts. “We have not seen enough growth over the past five years to compensate for increasing costs,” Akin says. Difficulties began, though, around 2001, with a “groundswell of rumors” that Medieval Manor was closing then. Akin says he never did much advertising, and the rumors turned into a PR problem.
“We are in the unfortunate position of doing too little too late. It’s time to do the right thing and sell off some assets to meet some of our debts,” he says.
That starts with the theatre’s liquor license, though Akin declined to name the buyer, pending the city’s approval of the transaction. The unnamed buyer won’t use the liquor license until 2016, Akin says, so he’s hoping they will allow Medieval Manor to finish out the year and host a final raucous hurrah on New Year’s Eve. Akin expects to be notified of the hearing and the eventual closing of the liquor license deal in the coming weeks, and will then determine Medieval Manor’s final performance.