The Bull Run Restaurant sits quaintly along Route 2 A in Shirley, Massachusetts. It invites patrons to come inside and experience a taste of history with its original fireplaces, wide floorboards, and hand hewn beams dating back to 1740. The restaurant and tavern have been an iconic symbol of food, drink, and spirited conversation since colonial times.
‘Even in the worst recession, the staff has grown since last year, with business up 66 percent. Great efforts have gone into period restoration and elegant landscaping. We treat everyone from the dishwasher to the world class performers like gold,’ said Alison Guercio, who spearheaded the needed capital to breathe new life into the landmark rich in history where fine food, function venues, and fabulous entertainment can be found.
Judith Basso, new executive chef, who has worked as a chef in Cincinnati and Fort Lauderdale, explained she really likes the farm to table philosophy. This allows her to work closely with local growers and farms to ensure the best and freshest ingredients for the new gourmet menu.
‘This place needed some love and some capital,’ Ms. Guercio said as she pointed to an antique sword displayed above a vintage painting of Abe Lincoln and his family. Many treasures like this, found tucked away in the restaurant’s attic, now grace each of the dining rooms.
Bryan Sawyer, general manager, along with his sister Kate, assistant manager, and their cousin, Arthur Guercio, assistant manager and bar manager are the new management team descending from Lee Guercio, their grandfather and the first Guercio to open and run the restaurant in the 1940’s.
On October 7th, people from as far as Rhode Island and D.C. packed the house to see the famous Blue Oyster Cult in the large Sawtelle Room; complete with chandeliers and spacious dance floor. More patrons arrived the same night to chill out to the local band, The Rafters, also sold out. Many were there to enjoy Trivia Night held in the new bar in the historical tap room recently spiced up in warm colors and ambient lighting creating the perfect setting to unplug and relax.
‘The new center bar makes a big difference,’ said Lindsay Stone, hostess, who has been greeting customers for over a year. She is part of a staff of over 50 employees employed at The Bull Run delivering efficient, friendly service and a savory local menu to customers.
Dinnerware to lighting to decor have been refurbished or replaced and the feeling of tired ghost town is gone. Many agree.
Fred Steele, from Maynard said, ‘I give it an A+!’ He and his wife, Patricia, said they enjoyed the excellent atmosphere and would be back for more.
Dave, from Townsend said, ‘I recommend the goat cheese beet salad. It’s out of this world!’
Lynn, his wife, added, ‘We go every week. They bring in great bands, folk music, and jazz. The prime rib is excellent, and we can be home in ten minutes.’
There is a local emphasis on the menu including syrups, creams, garnishes, and fresh produce. The menu also features grass fed beef. Ms. Guercio is a proponent for buying locally and keeping the menu fresh and current with the season, thereby working with surrounding farms and businesses.
Craig Grogan, from Billerica said, ‘I like the old tavern feel. The local draft was good and the soup was awesome.’
Ms. Guercio had always had an interest in the restaurant, but after being discouraged by her father’s old-fashioned attitudes, she decided to travel extensively, joined the Peace Corps, and ran her own business in New York City, where she lives now.
In 2009 her brother called her when he decided to put the place on the market which sparked a new interest in an old passion she held for the family business since she was ten years old. She agreed she had come full circle, managing to keep the restaurant in the family, which is now being run by a happy and very energetic third generation; a tribute to the history of the Guercio family.
Nephew, Bryan Sawyer, a recent graduate of business school, is the new general manager. ‘He and Kate and Arthur are doing a great job of bringing the Bull Run Restaurant into the 21stcentury,’ said Ms. Guercio.
Bryan agreed. ‘There wasn’t an opportunity for us to do this until Alison came along. It’s a good feeling knowing we have been entrusted with such a special piece of history in the town and in our family.’
‘The whole world comes to my door, much like they did 300 years ago,’ she said as she smiled with satisfaction.
The Bull Run Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am – 10pm. Go to www.bullrunrestaurant.comto find out the latest in menu and upcoming entertainment.