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Union Oyster House manager responds to Globe review

Clam chowder is a staple at the Union Oyster House.
Clam chowder is a staple at the Union Oyster House. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Union Oyster House has been shucking shellfish downtown for so long that the restaurant predates even the Globe by nearly 50 years. And the two institutions have coexisted peacefully for nearly a century and a half. So after Globe reporter Nestor Ramos wrote a pointed review of the Hub institution’s food last week the bar manager there wrote to us with his particularly well-expressed opinion. Here it is:

I take great umbrage with both Nestor Ramos and The Boston Globe for the recent vitriolic attack on the Union Oyster House, “Tourist trap or living history? A review of Union Oyster House at 190.” Ramos, a two-year Globe employee with previous stints in gastronomical and historic meccas Rochester, N.Y., and Sioux Falls, S.D., decided a blind-side journalistic sucker punch with a side of snark might be his ticket to the full-time foodie gig at The Boston Globe.

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The pettiness and glee Ramos reveals in his review of the Union Oyster House in Boston, the longest continuously operating restaurant in the United States, speaks volumes about the writer himself. Perhaps because Chipotle does not carry seafood and the Union does not offer ramen noodles and Red Bull, Ramos found himself out of his element. Or maybe Nestor was just having a bad day, as the recent double-duty mandate that requires Globe writers must also deliver the newspapers themselves may have left him feeling bitter and unfulfilled. Maybe a subscriber reprimanded Nestor for leaving the paper in the driveway and not on the porch. It seems on his trip to the Union Oyster House, Ramos found little to his liking. Unfamiliar with lobster scampi, perplexed by Indian pudding, and apoplectic that the Union Oyster House would dare have a gift shop inside the restaurant were all Ramos needed for his amateurish hatchet job.

Ramos’s concept of “gotcha” journalism will not go down as his finest moment. He denigrates, with great delight, an iconic Boston landmark, which has withstood the test of time for 190 years. In an era when eight of ten new restaurants fail, and others change their concept every 15 minutes, the Union Oyster House has served up New England seafood, hearty and delicious, since 1826. By proxy, Ramos is also mocking the half million guests who come through the doors at the Union to consume thousands of gallons of chowder, 37,000 lobsters, and about a million and a half oysters per year. Every year. For 190 years. The restaurant business is, in fact, show business, and the Union Oyster House is the biggest hit on the Broadway stage.

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As a proud Oyster House employee, I watch my fellow employees strive with all they have each night to do the very best they can for our beloved guests. Ramos flicks this concept aside like a half-smoked cigarette. His attempt to belittle and besmirch the Union Oyster House is an affront to the hard-working and proud employees as well as to the Milano Family, who have had stewardship of the Union Oyster House for many decades and who have left a charitable footprint on the City of Boston second to none.

Jim Sullivan

Bar Manager

The Union Oyster House