Who could imagine that the largest nightclub in the East Coast would be located in South Boston? For a brief time in history, Blinstrub’s Village held that honor.
In 1917, Stanley Blinstrub, son of a Lithuanian immigrant, was living in Brighton, Massachusetts, working for his father. Stanley had big dreams and when he noticed an empty restaurant on the corner of D Street and Broadway, he called a family meeting and convinced the family to purchase the building. Originally called the Belgian Village, the restaurant became known for fast and inexpensive food. Back then, a sandwich cost five cents and a full meal cost a quarter.
But Stanley had ideas for something bigger and better. He expanded the building to seat 850 people, remodeled it to look like a Bavarian Castle on the outside and a village on the inside, and made the decision to offer dining, dancing, and entertainment. On New Year’s Eve, Blinstrub’s Village opened as a nightclub.
Eventually, “Blinnie’s” was expanded to seat 2000 people and became a premier venue for events, as well as entertainment. Against the advice of his family, in 1952 Stanley decided to book the biggest names in show business. During the “Golden Age of the Glittering Nightspot,” Blinstrub’s Village offered two shows a night plus weekend matinees featuring entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Jimmy Durante. Wayne Newton got his big break there and performed at Blinstrub’s more times than any other artist.
Blinstrub’s continued to thrive into the 1960s featuring stars in the prime of the i careers. I remember when my sister and I attended Chubby Checker matinee concert during that era. Unfortunately, on February 7, 1968, the building caught fire during the night and was completely destroyed. The loss was estimated to be $1.25 million. Stanley Blinstrub did not have insurance on the building. Because he had been very generous to many charities over the years and a fundraiser was held at Boston Garden to help rebuild Blinstrub’s Village. In spite of the support of Richard Cardinal Cushing and many big names in the entertainment business, only $150,000 was raised. With insufficient funds to rebuild, Blinstrub’s Village was consigned to history.
The Blinstrub name lived on in Blinstrub’s Old Colony Restaurant in Dorchester, but the glory days were over. For many of us, Blinstrub’s Village will live forever in our hearts and memories. For Southie, Blinstrub’s will remain that shining star in Boston entertainment history.
(by Carol Starkey)