When Boston’s North End natives consider which landmarks reflect the “old world flavor” of the vibrant neighborhood, Polcari’s Coffee on Salem Street customarily falls atop of their list. With the rest of the community continuously modernizing alongside the city itself, Polcari’s has steadfastly conserved the original ambiance of the North End.
At twenty years old, Anthony Polcari immigrated from Italy to the North End. The ultimate success story of Italian immigrants at the time, he saved his earnings “working as a pocket- maker at a local tailor’s shop” to pursue his dream, in 1932, opening up Polcari’s Coffee, eventually passing ownership down to his son, Ralph.
Ralph’s dear friend and employee, Bobby Eustace continues to preserve the legendary Polcari’s legacy. In appreciation for his over twenty five year employment, Ralph left Bobby with the store when he past away four years ago. “Ralph was a mentor, and like a father to me, and I miss him immensely,” Bobby said.
Bobby is known for his affable and cultivated attitude towards his store and it’s history. He gracefully and pleasantly greeted my unexpected visit and allowed me to interview him while simultaneously assisting incoming customers. He spoke about the store with great pride and when I asked about what is upcoming for the store’s future, he was thrilled to announce they are currently seeking a food take-out license to sell cups of coffee to go. “Not many people cook for themselves anymore,” Bobby said above Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, “I’m going to have big signs that feature the coffee of the day.”
Polcari’s customers are a blend of locals and tourists from all over the world who fascinate Bobby with their views and cultures as he fascinates them with his offerings. “I consider myself a museum keeper,” Bobby wrote on the Polcari website. And after over eight decades, Polcari’s Coffee continues to be an unwavering symbol of the original Italian-oriented North End.
Kat Capossela writes about the people connected to the North End / Waterfront neighborhood. Do you or someone you know want to be interviewed by Kat? Email her at email@example.com.