92 A STREET, SOUTH BOSTON | 617.269.9646
Edna and Midge are sisters. They have seven other siblings. Their mother, Lillian, is 97, and she has gorgeous skin and pitch-black hair with a silver crown. She has 27 grandchildren and 44 great grandchildren. ("Everyone gets a birthday card," Edna declares. "She should own Hallmark.") Midge is a stockbroker. Edna is a project coordinator at a design firm. They're both loyal Williams Tavern patrons.
I met the sisters on a Saturday, in the wood-paneled barroom, where a pencil sharpener hangs on the wall next to the Keno machine, and there's a 1973 edition of the Mr. Boston cocktail book behind the bar. Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, and Patsy Cline songs floated from the jukebox, which is not connected to the Internet.
There's a porthole at about knee level built into the wall beneath the back bar. It opens onto the vintage diner next door; daytime drinkers can order food through the porthole. But the diner closes at 2 pm, so Bob DeSimone, who owns the building and manages Williams, plans to start serving food to the bar's evening crowd. Manchego fritters, bruschetta, sliders, and more will soon be appearing in the window (or rather, "The WINDOW!! All capitals, exclamation point, exclamation point," Bob says).
It's a mark of esteem for a patron to have a menu item christened in their honor. You'll find Midge's Favorite Cheese & Crackers on the soon-to-launch bar-snacks menu.
Bob's father, Joe, bought Williams from the Archdiocese in 1945, since the past owner had willed the property to St. Peter and Paul's Church. Bob learned to count in the bar, he jokes. He ran it with his brother and sister after their father passed away. Then in 2003, Bob retired as a contractor for the phone company and took over. But those who knew his father sense that he keeps a watchful eye.
"All of a sudden sometimes, the door blows open," says Edna. "That's Joe letting you know he's in here."