Pat’s Place at 15 Francis St. to Close July 31, Leaving a 46-Year Legacy of Hearty Food and Friendships

Pat’s Place Catering Business Will Continue, Remain Located at the Brigham

Pat's Place owners standing behind a counter

From left: Pat Bruno Sr. and Pat Bruno Jr. stand behind the counter in Pat’s Place at 15 Francis St.

In the early 1970s, a hospital administrator at the former Boston Hospital for Women approached a friend and local restaurant owner, Pat Bruno Sr., to ask if he was interested in taking over the hospital’s coffee shop. The café had kept erratic hours and was in dire need of an experienced, steady hand to make it successful.

He signed on, and the first iteration of Pat’s Place opened for business in 1975. The hospital café soon became a bustling destination for staff, patients and visitors — attracting patrons from all walks of life, including the Kennedys and famed former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, recalled Pat Bruno Jr., who started working at his father’s business after school as a teenager.

Just six years after Pat’s Place launched, a significant shift in the health care landscape threatened to close the café. In 1980, several Longwood Medical Area hospitals merged — the Boston Hospital for Women among them — to form Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Approximately 500 staff members and loyal customers signed a petition urging the newly established Brigham and Women’s Hospital to find a new home for Pat’s Place.

An August 1981 edition of Inside Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced the welcome news: “Pat Bruno, the popular proprietor of ‘Pat’s Place’ at the former Boston Hospital for Women, is back in business.” Pat Sr., “known for his friendly smile and his uncanny ability to remember names and faces,” the hospital newsletter added, would serve breakfast and lunch in the 70-seat café at 15 Francis St., where it remains today.

Having cemented itself as a beloved part of the Brigham community for more than four decades, Pat’s Place will close its doors for good on July 31. The younger Pat, who took over the business about 25 years ago, said it’s time for a new chapter.

“This pandemic put things into focus for me, and I got to realize life is not all about working,” he said. “I’m approaching retirement age, my father is 86, I’m expecting my first grandchild soon. It’s a good time for me to slow down.”

Still, the moment is bittersweet, the younger Pat acknowledged.

“There are people here I’ve known for 40 years. You get to know their lives and become like their psychiatrist. You wouldn’t see that in a regular restaurant,” he said. “It can be the most esteemed doctor in the world, and they just walk into Pat’s Place for a laugh and a bite to eat. Everyone’s treated the same here.”

While the Pat’s Place café is closing, its popular catering business will remain operational and be located in the Brigham. Brigham departments and staff can continue to place Pat’s Place catering orders after July 31 by contacting Pat Bruno at p.bruno26@yahoo.com or pbruno2@partners.org.

“Pat’s Place has been a staple of our community for nearly half a century, and we’re thrilled that Pat will continue to offer his hearty and well-loved meals to our employees through his new catering-only business,” said Douglas Carney, AIA, MBA, senior vice president of Real Estate, Facilities and Operations.

The Brigham has committed to Pat Jr. and his staff to help find each employee who both want and qualify to find replacement jobs in the Brigham family if they want to stay, Carney said. The hospital is also planning for future alternative uses for the space, both long- and short-term options, to ensure there is a food service available at that end of the campus.

‘Where Everyone Knows Your Name’

A big part of what made Pat’s Place so inviting and comfortable was the friendliness, warmth and familiarity between its employees and customers. Known fondly by regulars as “the crew,” the café’s cooks, cashiers and other staff — many of whom come from the local community — are just as big an attraction at Pat’s Place as the food, said several longtime patrons.

Group photo of Pat's Place staff

Known fondly by regulars as “the crew,” the café’s cooks, cashiers and other staff are just as big an attraction at Pat’s Place as the food.

“Pat’s Place is very special to me. It reminded me of the TV show Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” said Florence Connolly, an operation manager in the Division of Cardiac Surgery. “When I would go in there, they all would say, ‘Flo!’ I would feel like Norman from Cheers.”

Connolly — a customer for 25 years whose favorite orders include the café’s tuna sandwich with extra pickles — was saddened to hear the news about Pat’s Place closing.

“Pat is a dear friend who always took care of me, no matter how busy he was and how many last-minute crazy requests I had. He is kind, generous and a true gentleman,” Connolly said. “He hired a hard-working crew that was dedicated to him and to all of us. Also, a special thank you to his wife, who worked behind the scenes.”

John Chi, MD, MPH, director of Neurosurgical Spinal Cancer in the Department of Neurosurgery, said stopping into Pat’s Place for coffee or a sandwich never failed to brighten his day.

“It’s not fancy. It’s not glitzy. But that’s what makes it great,” said Chi, a regular for 13 years who, as a Philadelphia native, stands by the café’s steak-and-cheese sandwich as its winning menu item. “The guys who work there are terrific. We’ll talk about football on Monday mornings during football season. I show them pictures of my kids. I’m going to miss that camaraderie.”

And when Brigham staff haven’t able to come to Pat’s Place, it hasn’t been uncommon for Pat’s Place to come to them, the younger Pat said. It’s all part of the café’s commitment to supporting the Brigham community, he added.

“A lot of the doctors get so busy in their clinics and can’t go out for lunch, so I still bring food down to them every day,” Pat Jr. said. “The people are what make this place so special. The guy who comes in and takes my trash is just as important as the president of the hospital. You see how hard people here work. They are so dedicated.”

Even after preparing countless meals for patients, visitors, staff, donors and members of the local community for more than 40 years, Pat Jr. said food is often the last thing he thinks about while on the job. In fact, his favorite meal is decidedly off-menu — his wife’s home cooking, which he looks forward to enjoying more often.

31 Responses to “Pat’s Place at 15 Francis St. to Close July 31, Leaving a 46-Year Legacy of Hearty Food and Friendships”

  1. Ellen Steward

    Truly the end of an era. From their grilled cheese creations to their delicious salads, you could always find just the right thing to suit your mood on any given day. Best of luck to you, Pat! I’ll be looking for you around town.

    • Susan Malaab

      A favorite stop for me for breakfast or lunch. Best wishes Pat and take care. Susan Malaab

  2. Gail Appling

    Oh no, so sorry to see you go. Who’s going to make my delicious italian subs and turkey wraps. Best wishes to you Pat Jr. and “the crew”, you will truly be missed.

    Gail, Dialysis Unit

  3. Nancy Welch

    Very sad to see you go. I have enjoyed your sandwiches for many, many years. Best of luck to all of you!

  4. Nadine Jackson

    you will be missed. I had the pleasure of eating there once and the food was good. best of luck

  5. Cathy Pelletier

    Without fail, my day was always brightened by a visit to Pat’s – the great music and friendly crew – they always made me smile.

  6. Guru, Emergency Medicine

    Absolutely terrible news. Pats will be missed. Best homefries in town.

  7. Kim Seales Smith, Radiology

    Yikes, I will miss the french toast with bacon, steak & cheese and italian subs!!! Best of luck to Pat Sr, Pat Jr and the crew you will be missed!

  8. Cici

    There’s not enough words to express how I’m going to miss pat’s place especially “the crew” & the pleasure of eating there good food that place brighten me on my dampest days so many laughs & jokes overall that was the go to spot that I will miss dearly best of luck to them all.

  9. John Fromson

    Had my first delicious Pat’s Place grilled cheese in 1981. Re-fueled us throughout our entire careers. Thx so much Pat, Pat, and the crew!

  10. Sean, Infusion

    OMG, I will so miss the stacked ham, egg & cheese on an everything bagel & the very nice & accommodating staff!

    • Betty,

      Whenever I walk in Pat’s place, there’s always great music as your greeting and friendly crew. I will miss your banana bread and my delicious sandwiches.
      Best of luck to you and your Dad

  11. Melissa - Radiology

    The end of an era. Will be sorry to see you go! You and your crew were always the best! Thanks for always helping me out more than a few times over the years, when I was asked to get last minute orders for more than a few! You’ll all be missed! All the best to you!

  12. Mike Viera

    Pat, you and Patrick will be sorely missed. It was the place to be on any given day. You had the best meatballs! You were always ready for any request. Be it 2 sandwiches, or a short notice lunch for 20, you handled it with a smile.
    Thanks for the memories, and enjoy your retirement.
    Mike Viera

  13. Kristi, Radiology

    Small Cheeseburger Sub, lettuce, pickle, tomato, mayo…loved how this crew made me laugh every time I went in. Thank you!

  14. Doug Smink

    I’ll miss the steak and cheese and the Lautz wrap! Best of luck to you, Pat.

  15. Lianne Crossette

    Oh how I looked forward to a quiet moment at Pat’s — especially on a stressful day! The stress would melt away as I listened to the oldies and enjoyed watching the Pat’s Place crew behind the counter sing and sometimes dance as they captured the orders and made the sandwiches. Thanks for being a great team. Thanks for making us all feel at home. And special thanks for the many delicious chicken salad sandwiches. Pat’s Place will be so missed!

  16. Dever Facey

    Love the breakfast sandwiches! When I worked days their steak and cheese sub was my favorite lunch, have to stop by before 7/31.

  17. Kerin Howard

    Pat’s is so much more than great food and service! Every day the team put a smile on my face. Truly a special place with special people. Thank you for everything!!

  18. Mayra Scott

    OMG!! Pat’s place has been the GO-TO-EAT area for many years. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Pat and his family for over 38 years. Wish you ALL the LUCK in the World Pat & family. Will miss you dearly:)

  19. Renee Brathwaite

    Pat Jr. you and the Crew will truly be missed. Thanks so much to all of you for the good meals and all the laughs throughout the years

    • Nancy

      Had many delicious meals there from breakfast to lunch, but my most important memory was it was the last place I had lunch with my dad.

  20. Patricia Brennan

    How could I not love a place like this, with all the accolades others have already stated, and my name is Pat? 😃
    It was my special go-to place for a quiet, but never lonely lunch. Good luck to all of the crew and the two Pat’s, you have left an incredible legacy of making everyone feel at home in a busy, often stressful environment. Pat’s Place was that tucked away little oasis that everyone loved, and will sorely miss.

  21. Sherri R Schwaninger

    Even when the pandemic kept many staff and patients away, Pat and his crew were there for us. Wishing you all the best!

  22. Yvonne Gilreath Voss

    Best of luck in your new endeavor. Pat Sr. and Pat Jr., this brought back many fond memories reading this story. ❤️

  23. Ethan Parten

    For 18 years, Pats Place has been on speed dial and was always able to help us no matter how big the request or little notice we gave. Rather than take new MD recruits out for a fancy lunch we would take them to Pats Place because frankly, there is no better way to get someone to sign on than experience the Brigham via a Pats sandwich! Sad day but I wish nothing but the best for Pat Sr, Pat Jr, and the guys!

  24. Steven Ringer

    Stunning ! My interview for fellowship was done sitting at the counter at the Lying-in and for 30 years it was the go to place for breakfast and lunch. Pat : best wishes for the next chapter of your life , you and the crew will be missed! Steve Ringer

  25. Elaine G

    Working on A-Main it was always a toss up once you got to the Pike- turn left for the hospital cafeteria or right to head to Pats place. If it was Wednesday we went left for broccoli cheese soup but other days we took that right hand turn. The my Dept was moved to the BLI- and we had another Pats place in that building- starting the morning with and egg sandwich or a grilled chocolate chip muffin was the best!! Thank you all for taking good care or so many.

  26. CWN 10 & 9

    THANK YOU FOR THE MANY BIRTHDAY CAKES, THEY WERE ALWAYS SO GOOD!!! WE WILL MISS YOU AND FORWARD TO ORDERING FROM YOUR NEW PLACE, THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK!!!

  27. Joi R.

    So sad to hear Pat’s Place is closing its doors. Nothing like a hearty breakfast after a busy night at the Brigham with staff like a Pat’s who treats you like family. Wishing good health for the staff and enjoy retirement Mr. Pat.

  28. Caprie Bell

    Sad to see you go but the best is yet to come. Thank you for your many years of service!

    C.Bell

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