The Hill Tavern marked a quarter-century milestone Friday of when its founding partners assumed ownership of the now iconic Beacon Hill bar and restaurant.
“May 15, 1995, was when we passed papers and money, but we didn’t open until that September 15,” said Mark Murphy, who together with fellow Pittsfield, Mass., native Peter Culpo, continues to own and operate the establishment at 228 Cambridge St.
Before then, the space was home to Sporters, a longtime gay bar that Murphy recalls was so popular it sold around 200 cases of Budweiser each week. And in paying homage to that chapter in history, several vintage posters from Sporters’ heyday donated by patrons of the erstwhile establishment now adorn the walls of The Hill Tavern, Murphy said.
Upon opening, the Hill Tavern quickly cultivated a regular clientele from around the neighborhood, along with college students and workers from Mass General and other area hospitals.
“Everybody says we’re like ‘Cheers,’” Murphy said. “We’re pretty neighborhood-ish, and many people have worked here for years. It’s a friendly place.”
As a testament to this, The Hill Tavern has been repeatedly been named “The Best Neighborhood Bar” by the Improper Boston, along with earning countless other accolades.
Murphy also takes pride in knowing that many employees have stayed with the restaurant long-term, including several staff members who started working there as Suffolk University students and continued on for 10 or 15 years, as well as a manager who just stepped down from his post after nearly 20 years on the job.
In the end, though, Murphy credits The Hill Tavern’s steady success to the neighborhood for embracing the establishment from the start.
“”I try to keep the neighbors happy, and the neighborhood has been good to us” he said. “I always wanted to be a good neighbor, and that is one of the keys to our success.”
The Hill Tavern is now offering delivery via the DoorDash and UberEats delivery services, or takeout by calling the restaurant ahead at 617-742-6192. To view the menu, visit thehilltavern.com.