The Boston Licensing Board today approved plans for a hamburger joint that celebriBrit Gordon Ramsay wants to open in the new hotel at Haymarket with a liquor license he's buying from the heirs of Aga's Highland Tap in Nubian Square, as well as plans for a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville that will replace the old McCormick & Schmick in Faneuil Hall Marketplace with exactly what you'd expect.
Ramsay's downish-scale but eponymous burger emporium in the new Canopy Hotel by Hilton will feature "classic" burgers and hot dogs, along with what his lawyer at first told the licensing board yesterday would be "shakes," until he remembered he was in Boston and so amended that to "frappes." Ramsay already has a pricier Ramsay's Kitchen at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Back Bay.
Ramsay's Shake Shack competitor will have almost 200 seats on two levels, with an 89-seat outdoor patio. Ramsay's lawyer said it could open by the end of the year.
To lubricate his customers, Ramsay is buying the liquor license from Aga's Highland Tap on Washington Street at Eustis Street in Roxbury, which for a time was the only strip club in Boston operating outside the Combat Zone but which in more modern times was a somewhat more modest "bikini bar."
Aga's owner, Agamenon Alexopoulos, who had opened the bar in 1947, began offering nude dancing in 1979. The city immediately moved to keep the G-strings from coming off and the two sides spent more than 10 years in court fighting over whether the city's zoning code, which barred commercial nudity outside what was then a much larger Combat Zone, applied to Aga's.
The city consistently lost in court, for reasons that included the original ordinance being unconstitutionally vague to screwing up the process for holding hearings on the bar. And so, every time the city would try to revoke or not renew his license, Alexopoulos went to court and won. Still, the case dragged on until 1992, when the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which summarized the earlier action ruled that the city did not have to pay Alexopoulos's legal fees.
In later years, Aga's Highland Tap did switch from fully naked women to women who only got down to bikinis. Alexopoulos died in 2003; his widow, Alice, is the current owner of the business, which shut for the pandemic, appeared to re-open a year or so ago, then shut again.
Just yesterday, the Boston City Council voted to ask the state legislature for four new liquor licenses, three of which would only be able to be used at the nearby Bolling Building (and one at the Strand Theater in Uphams Corner). The council has to ask for the legislature's permission since it has never given up its power from the post-Repeal days of deciding how many liquor licenses Boston can have.
Meanwhile, the new Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at Faneuil Hall Marketplace will have room for 296 tourists who want to experience song lyrics brought to life as high-calorie fried food and alcoholic drinks.
Since this is America, diners will be able to get not just a Cheeseburger in Paradise, but a Double Cheeseburger in Paradise, which they will be able to wash down with their choice of margaritas, including one called Last Mango in Paris.