291 Commercial Street

Town House Mall | Cuffy’s

Two buildings compose this commercial front: a three-story, gable-front structure from the 19th century and a one-story eastern annex that was added sometime around the 1940s. In both guises, this building has long been a busy presence downtown, back to the late 1800s, when it was Mrs. L. Jane Dyer’s Dining Rooms and Bakery. At the time, it was denominated 272 Commercial Street, and it shared the lot with Nickerson’s granite works.

Early on, the annex that was constructed on the Nickerson site was a Chinese restaurant called Lai & Son, after Chung Lai, who operated the business with his wife, Katherine Mae (Peterson) Lai (±1919-1963). In 1953, the restaurant was purchased by Robert G. Gutzler, operator of the Town Crier Restaurant at 294 Commercial Street with his wife, June. They renovated the place, renamed it the Town House Restaurant and caused an instant sensation. The Advocate called it “one of the best restaurants in town” almost as soon as it opened (The Advocate, 8 July 1954), crediting its sense of “informal swank” and its chef, Sebastian “Benny” Tringali, late of the Ritz Carlton in Boston. The Galleria Bar opened as part of the Town House complex in 1966. The Town House had a remarkably long life; well into the 1980s, when John D. Gutzler (b 1945) was here.

For a time in recent years, there were different tenants in the main house (the Alibi Bar) and the annex (the Zany Arcade, a game arcade). Then Cuffy’s Company, a small chain of Cape Cod sweatshirt stores, took over the annex before expanding into the main house.















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