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‘Cheers’ fans clink glasses on 40th anniversary of the TV show’s premiere

Kevin and Kathy Statia, of Ontario, Canada, take a photo in front of the Cheers sign on Friday, the 40th anniversary of the TV show's premiere.Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe

Although Sam, Diane, Carla, Norm, and Cliff weren’t there, “Cheers” fans from all over the world made toasts at the famous Beacon Street bar on the show’s 40th anniversary on Friday.

The NBC sitcom premiered on Sept. 30, 1982, and four decades later to the day, busloads of tourists who grew up watching “Cheers” lined up outside the pub that inspired the show to take photos and grab a cold beer inside.

A "Cheers" 40th anniversary sign hung in front of the Cheers bar on Beacon Street Friday. (Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe) Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe

Cathy Juliano, of Totowa, N.J., celebrated her 55th birthday at the famed pub, having watched the show religiously growing up, she said. She stood outside taking photos with her friends in front of the 40th anniversary sign on Friday.

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“We had to come to Cheers. That was on the bucket list,” Juliano said. “It’s smaller than the way I remember it on the TV show, but they did replicate it beautifully.”

She reminisced about how, as a kid, she stayed up late once a week to watch each new episode as it aired — no DVR and no taping.

Fans showed up in droves at Cheers on Friday, the 40th anniversary, to the day, of the sitcom's premiere.Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe

Brandon Ely, 42, of Seattle, Wash., sat in the restaurant’s foyer with his wife, Angelina, also 42, during the hour-long wait to be seated. The couple had just begun watching the sitcom and were in town to visit their son at college, they said.

“I’m excited about being here. I think the show holds up — it’s funny,” Ely said. “I was looking forward to trying to sit where Norm sits. There’s a camaraderie and a warmness to it that I like. Easy to say that, at least for me, who likes beer, and likes this atmosphere. It’s just super relatable.”

The camaraderie was exactly what people were missing at the beginning of the pandemic, according to general manager Philip Varcholik, 50. Business at Cheers suffered immensely in 2020. Now, with travel back in full swing, customers are coming together around the bar.

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“Once everything opened back up again, and people could come back out, you could see that the customers want that environment,” Varcholik said. “They want to be able to hang out with their friends and have a drink after work. It’s definitely showing because we’re getting busier and busier.”

Friday was a big day for all of the Cheers staff, according to Varcholik, who has worked with the company for 16 years. He was waiting on a shipment of 40th anniversary commemorative T-shirts to sell in the restaurant’s gift shop, which was bustling with fans trying to decide which souvenirs to bring home.

Customers scoured the Cheers gift shop on Beacon Street on Sept. 30, 2022, the 40th anniversary of NBC show's premiere.Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe

“We had people lining up before we opened the door today,” Varcholik said. “On a day like this, it makes it that much more special for the people who grew up watching. We’re also getting a lot of younger kids that’d never seen the show, but their parents used to watch it. It’s kind of a phenomenon how Cheers has become an icon in Boston.”

Tori Harvey, 26, of Louisville, Ky., came to Cheers for that very reason. She grew up watching the show with her grandparents and knew it would be nostalgic to stop by with her two friends, she said.

“We listened to the theme song all day today, and we get here and it’s poppin’,” she said.

For St. John O’Gara, of Dublin, Ireland, who was standing outside of the restaurant with a group of college friends, it was his second time visiting the establishment. He traveled to Boston on a student visa in the 1980s and visited the bar back when “Cheers” was on the air, he said.

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“I was 19 or 20 at the time, and they wouldn’t let you in unless you were 21, so we were turned away,” he said.

The bar at Cheers was packed on Friday, as customers scrambled to squeeze in and order drinks.Bailey Allen for The Boston Globe

Kathy Statia, 50, from Ontario, Canada, made a beeline for Cheers with her husband, Kevin, and her neighbors as soon as they arrived in the city, she said. Statia said that Kevin and neighbor Erick Schnieders, 45, sat next to the window with their drinks to do some people watching.

“These two, when all the tour buses came up, they would ‘cheers’ the tour buses,” Statia said.

Throughout the day, droves of people ventured into the restaurant, perhaps wondering whether it would be like stepping into an episode of the show — a place where everybody knows your name.


Bailey Allen can be reached at bailey.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @baileyaallen.