Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Ben's back

Big Ben's Pub, burnt beyond salvaging in February, is slated to reopen at South End's Atherton Mill by Oct. 1, if renovations go according to plan.

Co-owner Paula Casey says she and David Harris are shooting for an Oct. 1 opening in the historic space at South Boulevard and Tremont Avenue that was once a trolley station. "We are anxious to get open, but the landlord has about a month of work and we have about a month."

Harris, a British native, and Casey had pubs in Florida, until the 2005 hurricane season convinced them another location would be safer. They opened Big Ben's in February 2006 in a 100-plus-year-old house at 801 Providence Road in Myers Park that had housed a series of restaurants, including the Meeting House and Sonoma on Providence.

The Valentine's Day blaze this year led to firefighters declaring it a total loss. "The building was so old," said Harris, "you couldn't build back on."

Amid the damage, estimated at a million dollars at the time, a small metal rendering of the pub's namesake clock tower in London survived. So did a photograph that has hung over the mantel in three of the pair's pubs of "the queen pulling a pint. That'll go back up," said Harris. "And we've been adding bits and pieces since we've been ... unemployed. We've been married 17 years, we have no children: Our pub is our life."

The mantel from the Providence Road house was salvaged. So was a London phone booth that will come to South End. The space has old brick, a 20-foot ceiling and plank roof, Casey said. The new Big Ben's will offer the same menu as the first, with traditional English pub dishes, plus some steak entrees and monthly specials.