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Locke-Ober restaurant is closed for business

Locke-Ober, the landmark restaurant in Boston that opened in 1875, has closed indefinitely.

A sign posted inside the glass front door Saturday night said that the restaurant is “currently closed for business, pending Locke-Ober’s sale of its buildings located at Winter Place.”

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The sign was addressed “to our loyal and valued customers” and included thanks for the support and a wish that “the many warm memories we have shared within” would live on.

Inside the restaurant, a ­party appeared to be taking place, with more than a dozen people gathered around the bar, several wearing white chefs’ tunics.

A man who responded to a reporter’s knocks at the door shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday shook his head and returned to the gathering when the reporter identified himself. The man later returned to the window and instructed the reporter to leave.

Phone calls to the restaurant went unanswered Saturday night, and the Open Table restaurant reservation website would not accept reservations until Dec. 1.

News of the closing spread through online social media Saturday evening.

Patrick Maguire, who works at the nearby restaurant jm Curley, had posted a message on ­Facebook that read, “Locke Ober is closing at 7:30 tonight for good. Good luck on next chapter to everyone affiliated.”

Other posts on Facebook, Twitter, and local restaurant blogs also mentioned the closure and noted the restaurant’s long history.

Over its 137 years in ­business, Locke-Ober has ­attracted local and international celebrities from the world of politics — such as John F. ­Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton — and film and television stars such as Paul Newman, James Cagney, and Jackie Gleason.

In 2001, celebrity chef Lydia Shire and business partner Paul Licari took over Locke-Ober and embarked on a much- ­lauded restoration, but they had difficulty returning the ­restaurant to its former glory.

The restaurant suspended lunch service in 2009 and closed briefly in 2011, after Shire’s departure and the ­return of previous owner ­David Ray, to renovate and introduce a new chef, according to articles in the Boston Globe at the time.

The restaurant reopened in April 2011.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@globe.com.
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