|By Rick Winterson
Kelly's Seaport Cafe under- Dick and John Kelly, the
neath the pergolas in Maritime third and fourth generation
Park at the northernmost end of Kelly family restaurateurs,
of D Street. respectively.
The name of Kelly, as in “Kelly’s Landing”, is part of the language of South Boston. It has popped up again at “Kelly’s Seaport Café”, which is located in MassPort’s Maritime Park at the end of D Street in the shadow of the Manulife building. The café is operated by the father and son team of Dick and John Kelly.
The café in Maritime Park has been open for breakfast and lunch since June 30. It sports a familiar and traditional name – “Kelly’s Seaport Café”. That name has roots extending back 79 years to 1927, when the original Kelly’s Landing opened on the seawall between the yacht clubs and the Sugar Bowl. Kelly’s specialty: South Boston caviar (otherwise known as fried clams).
But Mother Nature isn’t always kind. Hurricane Carol damaged Kelly’s Landing, and that was followed by a fire. Dick Kelly took on the job of restoring Kelly’s Landing, which is now located on the southwest corner of L and Fifth Streets.
Earlier in the spring, when the concession at Maritime Park was put out for bids by MassPort, Dick was successful in submitting the winning proposal. He feels that one element in his successful bid was the long-time South Boston background that the Kelly family possesses. Part of that is the backup offered by the L Street location for storage, food prep, and so on.
And also true to form, John Kelly, the fourth generation of Kellys in the restaurant business, is managing Kelly’s Seaport Café this summer. John, who graduated from the well-known North Bennett Street School, is a furniture/cabinet maker – all custom work from his shop on Route 27 in Stoughton – as well as a member of Carpenters Local 424. However, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to carry on the Kelly name. Ask for him when you visit his café in Maritime Park this summer.
Kelly’s Seaport Café is open from Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. Juice, coffee, and breakfast sandwiches open the day for early office staff and for the ironworkers putting up steel for the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel next door. Kelly’s lunches include plenty of seafood and salads, with burgers or hot dogs or slush for the kids. As the summer goes on, John and Dick plan to add daily specials to their menu, possibly prepared and delivered from Kelly’s Landing on L Street.
Maritime Park is a great stop. It is a small jewel of a park, ranking #1 in small urban park areas; it features a number of interesting sculptures and artifacts. The impeccably kept grassy lawn is a great place for kids to play. The grownups can relax at comfortable table under the pergolas provided by MassPort (“pergola” is a horizontal arbor supported by columns – with seven letters, it’s a great Scrabble word). And MassPort provides and maintains public toilets within the park, so you can plan on a long visit.
And if you like Kelly’s Seaport Café in Maritime Park, consider a visit to Kelly’s Landing at L and Fifth. They offer a full dinner menu, the lottery, and a beer/wine/cordial license. Takeout service is a major part of the business on L Street. The seafood, including their patented South Boston caviar, heads the menu, but the steak tips are excellent also. Kelly’s turkey dishes are so popular that they roast ten 30-pound birds a week.