Our Story

Bella Luna & The Milky Way has stayed true to it’s Jamaica Plain roots through two locations and 25 years. Like the neighborhood we serve, we are a special blend of artsy, inclusive and vibrant.  With a flavorful menu and the most diverse array of music programming in Boston,  Bella Luna & The Milky Way offers hospitality with a purpose and entertainment for everyone.   

Then  . . . .

Co-Founders Kathie Mainzer, Charlie Rose, Carol Downs and Pierre Apollon opened the original Bella Luna in 1993 to create jobs and establish a friendly, safe gathering place in the Hyde Square neighborhood of JP.   With no capital or assets to speak of, the owners were inspired by friend Clara Wainwright (founder of First Night Boston) to ask family and friends for $1,000 or $2,000 each — person-to-person crowdsourcing before there was such a thing!

Bella Luna started small with a menu focused on pizzas, salads and sandwiches but quickly became a local favorite bursting at the seams.  In 1999 we took over the historic JP Bowl candlepin bowling alley in the basement (built in 1914!), added a stage and bar to create the award-winning Milky Way Lounge & Lanes.   Host to live bands, karaoke, comedy, burlesque shows, fundraisers and weddings, the business flourished.  

In 2008, faced with a doubling rent, Bella Luna & The Milky Way found a new home in the historic Haffenreffer Brewery Complex on Amory Street (alas, the bowling lanes could not be relocated).  As a farewell to the old and ushering in of the new, we hosted a parade led by Mayor Menino from Hyde Square to The Brewery attended by 1,000 people in our beloved community.

 . . . . and now

Today the ownership team includes Megan Mainzer, daughter of co-founder Kathie Mainzer.  With Megan and co-owner Carol Downs at the helm and 45 stellar employees, we carry on our mission to create community through delicious food, beverages, art & music; to be a gathering place where everyone feels comfortable and has fun; and to build a better Boston by supporting the work of local non-profit organizations.   We are honored and thrilled to be serving our second generation of customers, and hope to be around for another twenty-five years to serve the third.