by Liz Dowling

Newbury Street in Boston is a charming mix of retail stores, restaurants and galleries that starts at Arlington Street and ends at Mass Ave. Like so many business during Covid, retailers have taken a hit on Newbury and there are sadly a lot of empty storefronts. But, let’s talk about the positive! Activity is definitely back on Newbury Street and I am going to highlight the retailers that have weathered the Covid storm (sorry chain stores) and the special qualities that have kept them around for many, many years.

Let’s start at the top! Arlington and Newbury, across from the Boston Public Garden. New and noteworthy ~ the Newbury Hotel.

Photo credit: the Boston Globe

The Ritz-Carlton 1927 – the site of the ‘new’ Newbury Hotel at 1 Newbury Street

The Ritz-Carlton built this iconic hotel in Boston in 1927. It’s a landmark in this town and operated as the Ritz until 2007 when the Taj Hotel bought it. Even after that, everyone still called it the “old Ritz.” The Taj shut its doors in the fall of 2019 and Boston has been pacing for this iconic building to open once again.

View of the Public Garden from ‘Contessa’ at The Newbury

The Newbury Hotel opened in May 2021 to much fanfare! The entire hotel was redone from top to bottom, while keeping all of the beautiful historic elements. A new rooftop restaurant ‘Contessa’ and a redesigned floor level ‘Street Bar’ opened by the Major Food Group in New York. The Ritz used to have a rooftop restaurant with dancing here, so Contessa is a nod to the past. I have been to Contessa for brunch and dinner, both incredible and the views are stunning… AND guess what – Contessa just started serving breakfast and lunch this week! Get on RESY and book it! Visiting this new/old hotel is a must on your tour.

‘The Street Bar’ on the first floor is a great spot for people watching!

Alan Bilzarian, 34 Newbury Street

Opened in 1967, Alan Bilzerian was one of the first stores to collect and display new up-and-coming designers. It attracted many artists such as Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, David Bowie and Elton John with its European and Japanese clothes. It is still the “cool” store to shop on Newbury, despite all the new retailers that have come (and gone).

Ralph Lauren, 93 Newbury Street

I am including Ralph Lauren because of the gorgeous old 1872 Kakas Fur building it sits in. This landmark building is the perfect venue for Ralph and also holds some fun drama from the Kakas family history, including a murder and a missing polar bear! I wish, wish, wish Ralph would open a coffee shop here or a place for lunch/dinner. Boston would love it!

Winston Flowers, 131 Newbury Street

Winston Flowers started as a flower cart in front of the old Ritz on Newbury Street. How much do you love that! They opened this store in 1944 and it is still here. Winston Flowers is my absolute go-to for the most beautiful flowers and all things holiday. They have other locations now, including Greenwich, CT, but this is the OG!

Deluca’s Market, 239 Newbury Street

Yes, we have Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Eataly and many other food shopping options in Boston now. BUT ~ I still want to support the small local grocer who has hung in there since 1977. This used to be the only game in town when I lived here right out of college. Or, I could go to the big box grocery store on Boylston Street…. I will always be a loyal fan Deluca’s.

La Voile, 261 Newbury Street

There is a thriving restaurant scene in Boston. The South End has insane places to eat and tons of new restaurants have cropped up in most neighborhoods in the city. La Voile (the Sail) was transplanted literally lock, stock and wine barrel from Cannes to Newbury Street when owner Stephane Santos and Pierre Honegger decided to partner with local Bostonian Suzanne Eliastam. “We literally closed the restaurant and brought over everything,” Eliastam told the Herald shortly before the doors opened in 2007. “The chef. The staff. Even the decor.” That says it all for me! For a fabulous French meal, great ambiance and a lovely evening ~ this is my pick.

Emack & Bolio’s, 290 Newbury Street

A Boston mainstay, Emack and Bolio’s ice cream has been here since 1975. Does anyone remember Steve’s ice-cream? With all the mix in’s? It was across the street from my old apartment and I NEVER thought that would go out of business! Emack’s has watched fads come and go, JP Licks and Ben & Jerrys are a stones throw away and it is STILL HERE. Pay no attention to that sign. They have vegan ice cream, it is not a vegan ice cream store 🙂

Bauer Wine & Spirits, 330 Newbury Street
A neighborhood wine store where you know everyone and they also deliver. Bauer Wine & Spirits opened in 1960 and has a huge, loyal following – myself included. I can call them up and get what I want delivered in no time. I trust them to send me what they like too. They are making noise about moving locations for more space, but I love their little spot on Newbury Street.

Newbury Comics, 332 Newbury Street

Newbury Comics began as a comic book vendor in 1978 by two MIT roommates. Since then, it has stocked new and used vinyl, CD’s, DVD’s and other pop culture stuff, including comics, posters, T-shirts, action figures, buttons, novelties and more. It is still the cool record store – even when a three story Tower Records was less than a block away.

Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 338 Newbury Street

An indépendent bookstore that serves delicious food. That is Trident. As you can see in this picture, Trident is BUSY! Tim and I could barely squeeze in last Saturday to grab a new read and brunch. I love this place. It was open during Covid and would deliver food and books to you when the four walls were closing in. Something in their secret sauce since 1984.

A paint store? What is she thinking?

Any independent paint store that has been open since 1939 in the same location on Newbury Street, which was then practically a dirt road, has my vote. Not only that, this store has everything you would ever need for a project. If they don’t, they will get it AND deliver it! The staff is super helpful, nice and (bonus) they sell Farrow & Ball paint….. I did a bunch of projects during Covid and did all of my ordering with Johnson Paint Company over the phone and they always delivered.

Let me just say again, I am highlighting the stores and restaurants on Newbury Street that have been here for a while and have some fab secret to survival. There are many, many other places to go and see on Newbury Street that I don’t mention here that are also wonderful!

Spoooooooky things starting to happen here……

the wry home





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Lindy October 21, 2021 - 8:00 am

Love this! My grandparents owned several buildings on newbury including 116 where they operated the Reading Institute of Boston the first school for children and adults with learning disabilities

Liz Dowling October 21, 2021 - 8:57 am

Wow Lindy, that is so cool! Come visit!

Lisa October 21, 2021 - 8:45 am

LOVE Newbury Street. My daughter and her roommates spent many weekends strolling the area this summer, and insisted we go to Trident for brunch before leaving Boston after her summer intensive.

Liz Dowling October 21, 2021 - 8:57 am

Now you have to come back and try Contessa!

Cynthia October 21, 2021 - 12:00 pm

Thanks for this post, Liz. Such a walk down memory (70s/80s) lane – with you and SAR starring front and center! Great coverage of great spots on Newbury St. John and I have LOVED La Voile since we moved in to the city in 2015…. Can’t wait to check out the new Ritz!

Liz Dowling October 21, 2021 - 12:11 pm

Lets grab Sherry and have a drink at the new Ritz! Would love to see you guys ~ Liz

Callie October 22, 2021 - 6:25 am

Awesome Read… Boston is lucky to have you!

Liz Dowling October 22, 2021 - 7:53 pm

Thanks Callie, come visit us!

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