Famed Boston Bartender Eddie Doyle Laid Off

March 10, 2009 12:00 PM
by Mark E. Moran
The bartender who inspired the TV show “Cheers” was laid off from his Boston bar, showing that no one is safe from the economic downturn.

Recession Hits Boston Icon

Eddie Doyle, legendary bartender at the Bull & Finch in Boston, has been laid off after nearly 30 years of work. Doyle and the Bull & Finch gained fame in the early 1980s as the inspiration for the long-running hit television comedy “Cheers,” whose opening song famously referred to it as “a place where everybody knows your name.” The bar eventually changed its name to match the show’s title.

Tom Kershaw, Doyle’s boss, told WCVB-TV, “Business is way off. It was very tough. Personally, for me, it was a disaster. Eddie and I have been friends for 40 years.”

After the show became popular, the bar served thousands of people each day and Doyle leveraged his newfound fame to benefit Boston’s needy. The Boston Globe writes that Doyle’s “charitable deeds became the stuff of legend. Along the way he got to know thousands, introduced dozens of singles who would eventually marry, and held numerous fund-raisers that attracted everybody from the glitterati to the near-homeless.”
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn told the Globe, “He’s as important as George Washington to this city; he’s that well known. They say it’s a bar where everybody knows your name but it’s really a bar where everybody knows Eddie Doyle.”

In 1980, Doyle and his fellow bartender John Grasso formed “Cheers for Children,” an annual holiday auction to raise money for charity. Last December, it celebrated its 29th anniversary, and has raised more than $1 million for charity.

Doyle has received numerous honors throughout his career, including having his own day in Boston. In 1999, Mayor Tom Menino declared Sept. 12 as “Eddie Doyle Day.”

Related Topic: “Cheers”

“Cheers” ran on NBC from 1982 to 1993, and the show and its cast and crew won 26 Emmy Awards and held a top-10 spot in the ratings for most of its run. The show launched or advanced the careers of Ted Danson, Shelly Long, Kirstie Alley, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt and Kelsey Grammer, who also starred in the spin-off hit, “Frasier.”

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