The No Name restaurant will be sold off piece by piece on Thursday at a public auction.
The Holbrook firm Paul E. Saperstein Co. will auction off the Fish Pier building’s lease, which includes 40 designated parking spots, and its limited liquor license in an attempt to clear owner Yannis Contos’s debts. The beverage license excludes hard liquor, making it slightly less coveted than an unrestricted license, of the sort sold in September by the owners of Doyle’s Cafe to the steakhouse chain Davio’s for $455,000.
The auction will take place at 11 a.m. at the former location of the 102-year-old restaurant in the Seaport. Bids will also be accepted online.
The No Name filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, which provides for the liquidation of property and the distribution of assets to creditors, on Dec. 30. It owes the city close to $700,000 in back taxes, including interest, according to city records. Owners of the landmark seafood joint stopped paying property taxes in 2013, and the city put a lien on the property. Emme Handy, chief financial officer for the City of Boston, said the city has a “99 percent collection rate” because it is first in line to be paid.
In a Wednesday filing in response to the auction, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and leases out the Fish Pier, stated it’s owed thousands of dollars more than the $93,050 originally noted in the bankruptcy filing. Outstanding payments now include another nearly $10,000 for heating and $57,640 in unpaid rent since the restaurant closed.
Beyond the big-ticket items — the license and the lease — various pieces of memorabilia that have piled up in the worn restaurant over the years will be on the auction block. The inventory includes wall-decor crustaceans and mounted fish, as well as a signed photo of the recently deceased actor Kirk Douglas and a Bruins jersey autographed by members of the team. Restaurant equipment, including chairs, gas fryers, and freezers, is also for sale.
Whoever moves into the two-story, 7,219-square-foot space, which sits within a block of seafood purveyors, must comply with the Massport lease, which dictates that the next establishment will open “for the purpose of operating a restaurant primarily specializing in the serving of seafood to customers.” After Massport approves a bidder and debts are paid off, the tenant will pay $13,235 in monthly rent.
For over a decade, the No Name billed itself as a no-frills seafood place catering to the fishmonger next door, as well as to the business people and tourists from outside the wharf. Before it closed, it was the oldest continuously operated family-owned restaurant in Boston, tracing its history back to a hole-in-the-wall counter eatery founded in 1917 by a Greek immigrant, John Contos. The restaurant expanded over the years as its rough-and-ready charm and seafood-packed chowder grew in popularity.
News of the restaurant’s unceremonious closing was met with a wave of nostalgia. Many recalled a boisterous bygone era when boaters could pull up to the pier to retrieve takeout orders, and college students tailgated in front while waiting for a table. Others claimed to have dined at the restaurant more than 50 times over the years. Staffers, some of whom had worked there for decades, learned they’d be losing their jobs only 24 hours prior to the closing. In the days that followed, diners continued to show up for chowder and fried fish, only to be met by a farewell message taped to the locked front doors.
Today, the No Name sits in suspended animation amid two long brick buildings that house 19 fish processors with leases through 2029. Due to bankruptcy laws, the restaurant has remained largely untouched since its final hours and acts as an eerie reminder of the fragility of landmark institutions in a modernizing Boston.
Place mats and silverware sit ready on wooden tables. The discarded shell of a lobster leg sits on the trim of the hallway leading to the kitchen. No Name T shirts with the slogan “We’re still here!” fill a wooden crate near the hostess stand. Christmas wreaths hang from the rafters. Fridges chill cans of Guinness, Boom Sauce, and White Claw. A withering french fry is squashed on the brown tile floor. Two stained white aprons are strewn atop a captain’s chair. And a bill for hot dog and lobster roll buns delivered on the place’s last day sits wrinkled on a back table.
But more than a hundred white tags dot nearly every foot of the place, making it clear the No Name is no more. Dozens of framed and yellowing newspaper clippings and restaurant awards, mostly from the early 2000s, for sale. A photo of Joe Biden, the former vice president, and Mayor Marty Walsh gazing at the harbor, for sale. A plaque commemorating the Fish Pier’s addition to the National Register of Historic Places, for sale, with bids starting at $5.