But a restaurant ain’t one.
For a restaurant chain that has become synonymous with the suburbs, the 99 Restaurant actually got its start as a pioneer of downtown casual dining at the restaurant’s once-eponymous address: 99 State Street. I recently walked over a few blocks to investigate the chain’s original home. While the “99” is gone, there’s a “103” in its place, which is presently occupied by a 7-11. (For you numerologists out there: 7+11 = 18 and 9+9 = 18)
Full disclosure: I’ve never actually been to the 99 restaurant, but that hasn’t stopped me from developing a fascination from afar. This fascination is largely attributable to the fact that the chain location closest to Boston is situated on what I’ve oftentimes thought is one of the most under-developed parcels in the city. That’s right…Charlestown’s very own Bunker Hill Mall. The site has it all. Gateway parcel! Infrastructural bonanza! Close to a community college! Adjacent to a confined residential area! Along with the 99, the commercial retail roster reads like a Who’s Who of AAA tenants: Dunkin Donuts, Radio Shack, Curves, Friendly’s, CVS, Citizens Bank, Papa Gino’s, Quality Dental, USPS, and a Foodmaster (ok, maybe not this last one). Is the current configuration really the highest and best use?