The Anchor Seen as a National Model for Outdoor Activation, Programming

Sometimes special places don’t seem entirely unique when they’re in one’s backyard.

That just might be the case for The Anchor venue in the Navy Yard, which this summer is gaining accolades from near and far – even as far away as sunny Miami.

Fresh off being named a 2021 Best of Boston beer and wine garden this week, Owner Chris Sinclair said they have also gotten attention beyond Boston, with him having been invited earlier this summer to share the successes of the Anchor with the Greater Miami Festival and Events Association.

Sinclair said they reached out to him and invited him to speak at their gathering in June regarding how The Anchor has combined food, beverage, creative placemaking and tremendous amounts of community programming.

“I’ve never thought of it this way, but we’ve created a model here with the BPDA that at least Florida wants to re-create,” he said. “If the Miami area thinks this is great, I’m sure Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco also think that…It’s such a different feel and space and business model. They wanted to know about it. Boston has a global appeal. Cities really do look to the way we do things here…The Anchor is not a beer garden or a restaurant or an events space. It’s all of them mixed together and they were interested in the model we created with the extensive community programming.”

That programming has been very prolific since the beginning of The Anchor, but it took on a new and bigger role last year when they hosted more than 400 events from opening to New Year’s Eve. Sinclair said the group in Florida wanted to know how Boston pulled that off, and what it takes to make it happen elsewhere.

“It is fascinating in retrospect a lot of the things we did during COVID-19,” he said. “We held nearly 400 events and they wanted to know what we did to host so many things, even in the pandemic. We explained it takes thousands of man hours and the business isn’t for everyone if they don’t have the time. If they do have the time and the team, then maybe what we’ve done can be re-created. I did share our business plan also.”

Another key interest they had was the fact that The Anchor is a public-private partnership. The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) owns the land they operate on and licenses the establishment – with the goal of activating the area and brining more people into the Navy Yard from Charlestown and citywide. Many in Florida also wanted to copy that idea of using public outdoor space in a better way.

“They had never seen anything like The Anchor,” he said. “They’ve seen placemaking and they’ve seen beer gardens, but to combine them with the community to produce so many events – they’d never seen that…If we’re a national model, it has to be predicated on the fact this is so community driven.”

A final key to the model was something The Anchor is known for – always being open virtually in any kind of weather. Even with July being one of the rainiest months on record, they opened every day. He said for a model like The Anchor, no matter where, there has to be consistency.

“A lot of operators will close early or skip days,” he said. “We’ll have $100 days in the year, but we stay open so there is consistency because over time the public understands you are there and you are open – that they can come down and find us open if it’s 90 degrees or 30 degrees – wet or dry…It’s a long-term game. It’s not a quarter by quarter, or month by month approach.”

The Anchor is located in Shipyard Park in Charlestown’s Navy Yard. The hours are Monday to Thursday, 4-11 p.m., and Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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