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Michael Silverman

The Fours, a TD Garden mainstay, closes after 44 years because of the coronavirus pandemic

The Fours sits empty on a deserted Canal Street in March, after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the NBA and NHL.
The Fours sits empty on a deserted Canal Street in March, after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the NBA and NHL.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The final buzzer has sounded on one of Boston’s most fabled watering holes.

The Fours Boston, just a short walk down Canal Street from TD Garden, announced its permanent closure Monday.

Peter Colton, whose family has owned the establishment since 1980, described the decision as “gut-wrenching” but the only one he could make in the ongoing wake of COVID-19.

“Once they closed the Garden down [in March], it was just a matter of time because that was basically why we were here in the first place,” said Colton. “The Garden’s basically our business plan.”

The Fours has been a Canal Street staple for many years.
The Fours has been a Canal Street staple for many years.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The two-story restaurant/bar expanded its business outdoors as soon as the state protocols allowed, but the volume was nowhere near sufficient to maintain a business that employed approximately 60 people before the pandemic struck. Colton said that the restrictions and nearby offices sitting at “90 percent empty” added up to an untenable business proposition.

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“You’re worried about your rent, you’re worried about your payroll costs, your meals taxes have to be in — those are big numbers and you have to pay them,” said Colton. “After a while, nothing’s improving, it’s not getting better.

“It’s the same situation it’s been for months now. I don’t see it getting any better for a while. Basically we ran out of money, it’s as simple as that. How much debt do you want to go into?”

Jack O'Leary has lunch at The Fours on March 12, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of restaurants across the region.
Jack O'Leary has lunch at The Fours on March 12, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of restaurants across the region.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

A limited number of current and former employees gathered at the establishment Sunday evening for a quiet get-together in advance of the official announcement that the business would close Monday.

“It’s a sad thing — we’ve been here 40-something years, I’ve been here some 33 years and I never thought I’d see the day like this,” said Colton. “It’s gut-wrenching. Lost a lot of sleep, felt bad. Great staff, great people worked here over the years. Tough to see them go.”

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Colton said no decision had been made on a destination for the substantial sports memorabilia collection that lined the walls and hung from the ceiling at The Fours, which was named after Bobby Orr’s uniform number.

There are two other Fours establishments, one in Quincy and the other in Norwell, owned by Colton’s brother and the former Boston Fours owner, Tim Colton. Pete Colton said both of those businesses are doing fine with expanded patio space and a thriving takeout/delivery service.

But in the original location, with The Fours facing competition from the TD Garden’s makeover and expansion that included newer, slicker bars even fewer steps away, the bar had no shot of survival.

Said Colton: “Boston’s another animal, a whole different setup.”


Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.