To say that we have a complicated relationship with Copley Place would likely be putting it mildly. When we were very small, our mother worked in the South End and we used to spend a lot of time in the mall, eating at the Au Bon Pain (back when it was located where Pink is now) and trying on hats in Neiman Marcus. Later on, we went to middle and high school in the Fenway and spent at least two afternoons a week reading magazines in the Copley Place news stand, sneaking into R rated movie theatres at the Lowes , and stuffing our face with Mrs. Fields and Sbarro. In short, we thought of Copley Place like any mall. Back in those days, we didn’t know anything about designers. We thought the Louis Vuitton store, which was always empty, was just some weird place for old ladies. Although our allowance was by no means substantial, we always found something to buy at Gap or Express or (eep) The Limited.
We don’t go to Copley Place much these days because it’s just depressing. There’s a Barney’s in the movie theatre, a Burberry in the bookstore, and even J. Crew is selling $700 dresses. Recently, however, we found ourself passing through the mall for the first time in probably a year. The landscape around the atrium has changed pretty significantly (really? Dior? And where are the ornaments?), but we were tickled pink to see that one thing has stayed the same. Nestled in between the Porsche Design Center and Barney’s and across from Burberry, the Chili’s still stands. Now. We actually do not care for Chili’s one bit. Even for a chain restaurant, it’s mediocre at best. But. In a mall where the cheapest jeans will still run you almost $60, the presence of such a lowbrow chain makes us truly happy. We’re certain that Simon, Copley Place’s management company, would love for Chili’s to leave so that a high-end steakhouse could take its place (we’d put good money on another Morton’s, The Steakhouse), but we, for one, hope that Chili’s is able to keep on keeping it real.
[Photo: Christina O. Lee]