Never has a hamburger held such significance in Adam Ward’s life.
The 26-year-old security guard freely admits he has had plenty of them over the years. But on Wednesday, he wanted one in particular: The massive slab of beef served at the Pour House Bar & Grill on Boylston Street.
Ward had heard the restaurant was reopening for the first time following the Marathon bombings on Monday that turned much of Boylston into a bloody crime scene. So after a morning job interview, he walked there from Faneuil Hall, determined to help the eatery throw open its doors again.
“They said I was the first one to get a burger since the bombings, so I was pretty pumped about that,” Ward said as he left the Pour House Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve worked in town for almost a year now, so it was a scary sight to see no one on the streets.”
Ward was among many patrons who viewed the reopening of Boylston Street as an event not to be missed — a chance to reconvene with neighbors and friends and partake in mundane rituals that on Wednesday seemed to take on monumental importance.
“The city feels alive again.” said Johna Willis, manager of Towne Stove and Spirits, which opened for lunch and had already received a flurry of reservations for later in the week. “We’re just excited to be open and doing business again.”
On one of the warmest days of spring so far, crowds cascaded down Boylston all afternoon. Owners of several restaurants reported being unusually busy, as workers and visitors flocked to establishments that they knew needed a lift after losing tens of thousands of dollars during the street’s eight-day lock-down.
“We just had a patron drop a $100 tip on a $15 tab,” said Bill Golden, the chief operating officer of Uno Chicago Grill, who helped reopen the chain’s Back Bay store Wednesday. “He just told us to share it among the staff.”
Restaurants and bars were especially hard hit by the lock-down. Many were forced to leave half-eaten food on their tables for days after Marathon Monday’s frantic evacuations turned into prolonged closures. In addition to losing thousands of dollars in rotten food and unpaid bills, restaurants and their employees also missed days of sales and tips at one of the busiest times of the year.
Several restaurants near the explosions were still struggling to reopen Wednesday. Forum, the site of one of the blasts, was shrouded in black painted plywood as laborers continued to make repairs. At Atlantic Fish Co. and Abe & Louie’s, work crews spent much of the day meticulously repainting patio railings that had been sprayed with debris.
At Max Brenner, a sign hung in the doorway promising to reopen Friday at 9 a.m. “Thanks for your patience,” it said.
Many neighboring restaurants began to reopen at 11 a.m. At Whiskey’s Smokehouse, general manager Becky Caloggero said a larger than usual crowd at lunch was the first good news the restaurant had received in days.
“The staff is very high-energy right now,” she said. “A lot of them were suffering from cabin fever, And it’s nice that a lot of people are coming out to support the businesses in the neighborhood.”
Still, she added, Whiskey’s faces a long road back. Between spoiled food, lost business, and other damages, it has lost about $250,000.
Hanna DiVello, manager of The Globe Bar & Cafe, said she has not had the time — or the stomach — to tabulate all of her losses. She had to throw out all the food, and she still hasn’t been able to fully stock up.
“The losses are going to be extreme, to say the least,” she said. “But it’s nice to see so much activity today. I think it’s important to acknowledge what happened, but not let it define you.”
The Globe’s bar and patio were full at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Employees announced the reopening on sign boards beckoning people from the crowded sidewalks: “We’re open!” they read. “Boston Strong.”
John MacKenzie, a regular, was among those pleased to be back atop his rightful stool near the back of the dimly lit barroom. He was in the crowd when a bomb went off a block away
“It was pandemonium outside,” he said. “Every one of these businesses has had to start from scratch. I know there’s been a lot of talk of people being scared and not wanting to come back,” MacKenzie said. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but I couldn’t wait to get back.”