The Milky Way takes it to the streets

A parade from dead end to new beginning
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  March 18, 2009

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Bad news: on Sunday, when the Milky Way Lounge and Bella Luna Restaurant relocate from their long-standing Centre Street pad to the Brewery Complex seven blocks down, the bowling alley will be left behind.

Good news: that same day, a swarm of strident eccentrics will goose-step and boogie through the streets of JP, flanked by stilt walkers and a pair of marching bands to commemorate the transition. Ooooh, and at the Brewery digs, there will be . . . Skee-Ball!

Jamaica Plain owes a chunk of its eclectic reputation to this 15-year-old nightlife establishment. Astronomical rent hikes due to Hyde Square's swelling market value (for which the Milky Way is also owed some credit) mandated the repositioning.

Nobody likes gentrification, but everyone loves a parade.

"I read about some restaurant that was closing, and the owner did a funeral parade with a coffin," recalls co-owner Carol Downs. "When we were brainstorming about how to say good-bye to this space, I thought, 'I love that idea, but we don't want a coffin. We want it to be like Mardi Gras.' "

The procession gathers at 1 pm at the soon-to-be-former–Milky Way at 405 Centre Street, and heads toward to the new lodgings at 284 Amory Street, where cupcakes and hot cocoa will be dished up. It's open to all, and participants are encouraged to bring whatever zany noisemakers and props they wish. An umbrella might be prudent, as rain will not postpone this shindig. Also prudent: a pocket flask containing a little something-something to mix with your cocoa.

The Milky Way's slated to reopen in April. While the candlepin bowling will be missed, Bella Luna's gaining a patio and a bigger kitchen, and the Milky Way will remain a site for a plentiful variety of live music and DJs.

"There are fewer and fewer venues for live music," says co-owner Kathie Mainzer. "It's great to host these different acts and young promoters that have new ideas and want to share them."

Related: Dead Alive, Photos: El Dia de los Muertos, Gross point blank, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Jamaica Plain, Culture and Lifestyle, Beverages,  More more >
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