The Lantern: Lights out in 2 weeks

PITTSFIELD — The Lantern Bar & Grill on North Street, a downtown Pittsfield mainstay for more than half a century, will be closing in two weeks, owner Mark Papas confirmed on Thursday.

Papas, whose family has been associated with the business in various incarnations since 1916, declined to comment further. Papas, who had a knee replacement in 2016, said he will release a statement describing the reasons why the iconic eatery is closing within the next two weeks.

The Lantern, which has been located on the corner of North and Linden streets since the early 1930s, is known for its hamburgers. Many people consider them to be the best hamburgers in the city.

A photo of a mirror inside the restaurant with the words "closing soon" written on it was posted on GoPittsfield's Facebook page on Thursday. By mid-afternoon the post had drawn 49 responses. Judging by their words the majority of the respondents were shocked.

"Say it isn't so!","oh no!!" "what, why?" and "this is too sad,"were some of the responses.

"Please be fake news," wrote Bernadette Kennedy.

"Very sad, you will be missed," Shannon Freeman posted.

Donald "Chip" Elitzer of Great Barrington and Jim Bouton of South Egremont were frequent patrons of The Lantern during their two attempts to place an independent league baseball team at Wahconah Park in the early 2000s.

"It was our favorite place to go, have a burger in one of the booths and talk about our next course of action, " Elitzer said Thursday. "The Lantern was a landmark for us and I'm sure for a lot of other people.

"Really sorry to hear about it," he said.

Downtown merchant Steven Valenti, who owns Steven Valenti Clothing for Men, on North Street, said he was "blown out" by the news. A Pittsfield native, Valenti said he has been going to The Lantern since he first began working on North Street in 1965.

"They're an institution," Valenti said. "I've dined there throughout my whole career. That's one of those places that's just been there forever."

Roberta McCulloch-Dews, a spokeswoman for Mayor Linda M. Tyer, said the mayor's office declined to comment on The Lantern's closing because it didn't have all the information on why it will close.

The Lantern's origins trace back to 1916 when Papas' grandfather, Gus Papas, and his business partner, William Yerazunis, operated a lunch cart on Summer Street. They later formed a restaurant on the corner of North and Linden that was known as "The Puritan," a watering hole described as a place for "serious drinkers" in an article that was published in The Eagle in 1984.

Gus Papas died in 1949. His son, William G. Papas, who is Mark's father, bought out Yerazunis in September 1952 to become the sole proprietor. He renamed the restaurant "The Lantern." The restaurant was renovated in 1960. A grill and takeout menu were added in 1965.

Contact Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski at 413 496-6224.


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