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Historic Somerville diner being sold

Buyer plans menu changes, but wants to keep Rosebud’s nostalgic feel

The Rosebud Bar and Grill in Somerville originally opened in 1941, and its name was inspired by the movie “Citizen Kane.” The current owner bought the restaurant in 1958.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/File

The Rosebud Bar and Grill in Somerville originally opened in 1941, and its name was inspired by the movie “Citizen Kane.” The current owner bought the restaurant in 1958.

A landmark of Somerville’s Davis Square, the Rosebud Bar and Grill, is preparing to change hands.

Restaurateur Martin Bloom has reached a deal to buy the historic diner and its backroom bar and grill from Evangelos “Galley” Nichols, who has owned it since 1958. The deal is expected to be finalized in April, Bloom said by phone Wednesday.

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The diner will be restored and the menu changed, Bloom said, but he wants to keep its historic and nostalgic feel, includ­ing the restaurant’s fluorescent rooftop sign and gothic-style painted exterior.

“There’s no question whatsoever; it’s going to remain what it is,” he said. “It’s part of the charm, but it needs some fixing.”

The Rosebud is one of three traditional diners in Somerville and the city’s longest standing. Buddy’s Diner was installed on Washington Street in 1951, and Kelly’s Diner came to Ball Square in 1996, said Somerville’s preservation planner, Kristi  Chase. The Rosebud is an especially rare find, being one of seven Worcester Lunch Car Co. semistreamliners remain­ing in the country.

“There’s a whole group of people that search out diners for their architectural elements as much as their food,” Chase said. “It’s a big nostalgic piece.”

It is on national and state registries of historic places and classified as a local historic district, which requires that any work done to the exterior be ­approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Chase said.

“They only approve these if they are in keeping with the history of the property,” Chase said.

The business has had the same owner for 55 years, but there have been many changes to the property in that time, accord­ing to historic records filed by Nichols with the ­National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Peveloris opened the Rosebud in 1941, its name an ode to the movie “Citizen Kane,” which came out that year. ­Peveloris sold it to Nichols in 1958. An adjoining bar and club was attached to the rear of the building in the 1960s, and Nichols leased the business in the 1980s and it operated as a Mexican Restaurant. The diner was reopened in 1995 after exten­sive renovations, according to the records.

Nichols and his son, Bill, who operates the Rosebud, could not be reached Wednesday.

Bloom said detailed plans for interior renovations and the menu probably will not be ­finalized until early April, but they will include combining the larger, backroom restaurant and bar with the diner and using one kitchen, instead of two.

Davis Square has undergone a transformation in recent years, with many old storefronts revamped into frozen ­yogurt shops and hip bars. But Rebekah Gewirtz, who represents Davis Square on the Board of Aldermen, said the Rosebud is cherished and ­belongs in the neighborhood.

“There are people who have lived here for many years and there are people who are new, but I think everybody loves the Rosebud,” she said. “It’s iconic. There’s a lot of history there.”

A request to transfer the ­alcohol, entertainment, and victualler licenses to Bloom was approved by the city’s Licensing Commission last month. Bloom said he expected to appear before the city on plans to bring the building up to code in coming weeks.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at Bencks.Globe@gmail.com.
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