CHARLESTOWN, MA – The Anchor Boston, a new venue in the Navy Yard’s Shipyard Park since last summer, sought to “bring vibrancy to the public realm” and quickly succeeded with its two-story public gathering space, performance venue and open-air wine and beer garden where it offered free programs, live entertainment and more.
The owner, Chris Sinclair, who began doing events as a way to make money in high school, created what became The Anthem Group as a marketing agency in college and today, operates it to include catering, concessions, and most recently in the Navy Yard, a full service restaurant, bar and beer garden, The Anchor. This past Summer and Fall seasons saw the restaurant bring a host of activities and hundreds of people to an under-served area.
Sinclair believes that when a business does well, it must use that success to help the community it serves. Even when something has not been done previously, he says, that is no reason to not do it. Coming into a neighborhood that has been underserved in terms of entertainment and foodservice venues since it first opened in the early ‘80s, The Anchor brought an estimated 100,000 visitors to the new outlet.
He sees a way for his company to grow and evolve as it “leaves an imprint” on the city through a “pioneering initiative” on what had been a relatively untapped area on the city’s waterfront. The Anchor offered some 300 free public programs and events, including movies and games as it focused on what Sinclair calls “ the right things for the venue.”
The venue reached out to residents of public housing projects in the area as well as Navy Yard residents with its many programs. Going forward, it now has many residents who hope to collaborate “significantly,” he says. He hopes to replicate offerings such as a movie and paint party, as well as inviting vendors to offer their wares in a sales setting along the harbor. The group exceeded its goals for public programs for the first year, he says, and hopes to extend its season this year. Anchor’s customers and audience came from all 50 states as well as 40 countries,
For the holiday season, Anchor offered a winter garden with brightly lighted Christmas trees, both large and small, and giant “candy canes.”
Sinclair notes that the group has had numerous requests for an extension of Anchor’s season and plans to start earlier in the Spring this year. “We are working to have scenarios to improve our food and do more events, and plan even more community engagement,” he says. They may, he adds, replicate the formula for other venues. “It’s a true passion of mine,” Sinclair points out. “It was a pretty park but was largely under-used so we sought to create a multi-faceted program with arts, entertainment and hospitality.”
The Anthem Group and Anchor credit the mayor’s office and BPDA for their support and help. The group had a three-tiered jobs program that employed and trained persons transitioning from homelessness back to the workforce.