Story, photos by Susan Gilbert
The Heights Pub, 1314 Mass. Ave., opened to an overflow crowd on Friday, Nov. 12. After years of waiting, Arlington Heights now has a local and friendly pub seating 73 patrons.
“Friday night was a success, and patrons were excited. The kitchen worked very well, the taps poured a lot of Guinness and there were smiling faces in the seats. It was great to meet and talk to new patrons,” says owner James O’Rourke.
Situated in the former Balich 5 & 10 store, the pub serves a wide variety of fare, including steaks, seafood, pasta, tacos, burgers, sandwiches/paninis, salads, soups/chowders and pizza, as well as gluten-free options and a full bar.
“I love the history, and that this place is located in the old Balich’s 5 & 10 store. It’s about time Arlington opened up a place that families can enjoy,” says Jerry Bowser, who grew up in town.
Hours are currently 4 to 11 p.m., and will expand to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. once the pub is fully staffed. “We’re still getting staff, so it’s changing by the day,” says O’Rourke.
As O’Rourke expected, people from the neighborhood can walk to the pub, and says, “We look forward to being part of the community.”
Local resident Jen McGuinn says, “We’re so excited that it’s open. We wanted a nice local place that we can walk to, and the people here are very friendly.”
“I live across the street, and love this place,” says John Luongo.
The pub was completely renovated to make it a warm and inviting locale, yet still includes the Balich sign as part of the decor.
What has changed
“Everything is brand new! We put in new windows, a vestibule and two bathrooms, and the kitchen has all brand-new shiny equipment,” says O’Rourke.
Paulo Teixeira from RB Farina Roofing Co., an Arlington roofing-services company, says. “We watched this place being built for the past year, and are super excited to see it open. We’re so happy to have somewhere to go every Friday night.”
“This pub will bring more life to the neighborhood, said Rodrigo Farina, also from RB Farina Roofing.
Owner delighted to open in hometown
“It’s a great feeling to bring a neighborhood gathering spot to the Heights. We still have a family house on Renfrew Street, by the Dallin School.
"Every restaurateur wants to open up in their hometown, so being able to do this is very special for me. I enjoy being part of the Arlington community again. I still have my championship 1986 golf team Touchdown Club plaque hanging in my cellar, so being able to give back is a good feeling,” says O’Rourke.
O’Rourke’s culinary career began at Burlington’s Dandelion Green in 1987, where he worked for seven years. He started as cook and worked his way up to kitchen manager.
He then worked at Sports Etc., 1303 Mass. Ave., for 12 years, across the street from Balich. He also worked part time at Conley’s Pub & Grille in Watertown. “When Conley’s Pub & Grille expanded, the owner asked me to come on full time as a chef/manager. I worked there until Winchester’s First House Pub opened in 2015.”
O’Rourke started at First House as the chef/owner. “After 4 1/2 years, I stepped out of the kitchen and started running the business.”
The opening of the pub was delayed. Last May, the owner said he expected to open in June. He has previously mentioned delays caused by inspection approvals --including the Board of Health, gas and electrical -- as well as waiting for the carpeting.
Sept. 1, 2019: Heights Pub aims to open at Balich site
Aug. 21, 2012: As 5-and-10s fade, Balich endures in Heights
This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published was published Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. She also took the photos.
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