Out of all of the historical and cultural stops in Boston, it still boggles my mind that the “Cheers” location comes up on people’s lists. If you’re a youngin’ like me, “Cheers” aired on NBC for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993 and centered around a group of locals who lived around or worked in the Cheers bar.
In the opening credits, set to the song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” -- basically the whole theme of the show -- you see a building on a street corner with bright awnings and a cheery (ha) “Cheers” sign hanging on the side. Much like MacLaren’s Bar from “How I Met Your Mother” doesn’t really exist (the real pub that the fictional bar is based on is called McGee’s Pub) the Cheers bar from this intro is not really a bar.
The exterior we see was originally the Bull & Finch Pub founded in 1969, but the interior is nothing close to what everyone watching the sitcom saw on TV, though the ground floor has set up a modernized replica. The cast of “Cheers” actually watched the finale from inside this bar at 84 Beacon Street.
The building has actually been better and more often utilized as the Hampshire House, a wedding and corporate event venue. So, it’s a little strange walking into what you envision as they divey local bar and it really being a swanky hideaway.
The Bull & Finch was officially renamed -- by (intense) popular demand, I’m sure -- to Cheers Beacon Hill in 2002 as homage to both the sitcom and the location’s neighborhood.
The year before that, though, Boston opened an “actual” Cheers in Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace filled with kitschy restaurants, souvenir shops and boutiques. It’s also where Quincy Market is located, which is a much better stop for food if you ask me. This location, unlike the Beacon Street post, was actually designed to mimic the interior of the bar from the TV show.
However, you won’t get the local flair that “Cheers” exudes. There’s no Norm nursing a beer or Sam and Diane flirt-fighting. Instead, there’s screaming kids exhausted from their vacationing family’s all-day excursions and bored waitresses smiling tightly when you start asking questions about the show. They don't care, they just needed a side job with an easy commute.
Every single surface in there is also stamped with the Cheers logo, so you can tell they're really milking it.
That, and the food is what you’d expect from a tourist-trappy place: It’s bland American-style dining with nothing to write home about. In fact, it’s not even very appetizing, though there are little nods to the show that may make some lesser folk feel at home: Ma Clavin’s soups, Woody’s garden greens, the giant Norm burger, Frasier’s chicken panini, things like that.
Point is, Boston’s Cheers is just a random filming location like any other, even if it is from one of the most beloved sitcoms thus far.