fb-pixel Skip to main content

After 43 years of making merry while diners gnaw on roast fowl and glug beer, the South End restaurant and performance theater Medieval Manor is closing its doors.

Owner Don Akin said he’s shuttering the Boston institution because the business is losing money.

“I’m 65 years old, and I’m running out of enthusiasm,” Akin said. “Money is just too tight. I have to confess, my head is kind of spinning with the reality of the situation.”

Akin and his late brother Mark founded Medieval Manor in 1973, and over the years the dinner theater became an off-color draw for birthdays and other celebrations. While diners gather at communal tables, actors stage a spoof of medieval times in which a king wakes to find his court — a minstrel, jester, oaf and, of course, wenches — having a party without him.

Advertisement



The six-course meal is served without utensils. Each adult receives a drink token for his or her choice of a half gallon of Michelob Amber or Pabst Blue Ribbon or a half liter of wine. The restaurant also serves “virgin mead,” a mix of pomegranate, honey and decaf iced tea, or root beer.

The cast, whom he describes as students or part-time actors with other careers, often calls on the audience to participate in the show.

Tickets cost $34 to $54, depending on the night, he said.

“We’ve gotten pretty good over the years at identifying those who would not object to helping us out and those that would rather die a thousand deaths,” Akin said.

Akin said attendance has remained flat at the 140-plus-seat show, while costs have continued to increase.

In some ways, the business also fell victim to modern times. When he opened, guests were less concerned about sitting with people they didn’t know, he said.

He blames himself in part for the show’s decline, saying he wished he had become more Internet savvy to tap into social media and digital marketing.

Advertisement



The business was also dragged down by rumors that it had been shuttered years ago, which he could never fully dispel, he said.

“It’s quite possible that a lot of little things contributed to the scales being tipped at a certain point,” Akin said.

Akin sold Medieval Manor’s liquor license and hopes to use the proceeds to pay bills and break even. The final show is New Year’s Eve.

Many fans have reached out to share their memories about Medieval Manor since learning about the closing, he said.

“I want to thank all of Boston for supporting us for so long,” Akin said. “Please accept my apologies for not being able to do it for another 43 years.”

He ended with a tagline from the show: “Long live the king!”


Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @tarynluna.