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The People’s Republik will not reopen

The bar, which opened with communist-inspired décor in 1997, has closed due to the pandemic.Robert Blair

The People’s Republik, a popular Cambridge bar for more than two decades, has joined the growing list of beloved local gathering spots that will not reopen after a pandemic closure, its owner said Sunday.

“We had a good run,” Robert Blair, 59, said. “I’m not happy that we’re closing, but I can look back at those 23 years with pride and a lot of love for the people.”

The watering hole had been able to open during the pandemic because it is also a restaurant, but what was announced as a temporary closure in December will be permanent, he said.

“I’ve lost many nights’ sleep over it,” Blair said in a phone interview.


The establishment follows two other Central Square mainstays that have closed: the Cantab Lounge and Field Pub.

With the pandemic wearing on — and with sales down and bills piling up — Blair informed his staff a week ago that they would begin clearing out the place, he said.

When the bar opened in 1997, its moniker — which riffed on a nickname applied to Cambridge because of its famously liberal politics — was controversial enough to be blocked by the city’s license board, Blair remembered.

Although it initially opened with no name, the establishment quickly collected many Soviet-inspired decorations and a loyal following. (The name was eventually approved after the city’s rejection was widely reported, Blair said.)

The People's Republik, which opened in 1997 featuring communist-inspired décor, will not reopen.Robert Blair

“I spent this morning thinking back over 23 years of the good times and bad times, the funny times, the great times,” said Blair, who grew up in Dublin and was a longtime bartender at the nearby Plough and Stars before opening The People’s Republik.

World Series wins, terrorist attacks — the memories are many, he said, his voice breaking with emotion.

A busy night at The People's Republik.Robert Blair

The longtime staff and regulars had become so close that they attended weddings and funerals together — some even married one another, Blair said. “We’re literally a family.”


Turning 60 this month, Blair said he plans to retire and help baby-sit his grandchildren. But he will miss the community ethos of The People’s Republik, he said.

“It’s hard to let it go now.”

Lucas Phillips can be reached at