America’s Oldest Tavern Fuses Historic Boston Pub Style With An Environmentally Friendly Twist

The Bell-in-Hand Tavern in Boston resides just steps from two of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, located near Haymarket and Boston’s North End. But the stellar foot-traffic location isn’t the only draw: the Bell-in-Hand, originally opened on Elm Street in 1795, holds the distinction of being the oldest and longest operating tavern in the United States, closing only once during Prohibition. Established by Jimmy Wilson, Boston’s last-known town crier, the tavern has since played host to everyone from Paul Revere to William McKinley and is a popular hangout for students, politicians, and visitors to the city.

“The Bell-in-Hand is an institution,” says Eddie Kaplan, its owner. In addition to the historic-styled main bar on the first floor that can comfortably hold 300 people on busy weekend nights, the Bell-in-Hand has expanded the second floor of the building into a modern nightclub that can house up to 200. “We’ve mixed a new look with the old, and people really seem to like it. It’s one of the most happening places in the area.”

In that vein, the Bell-in-Hand is not afraid to offer some modern conveniences for patrons. One example is the tavern’s jukebox, which has an Internet connection offering thousands of songs on demand and is a hit with customers. Another is a feature added in 2003 to the four bathrooms in the pub: a ‘no touch’ automatic hand dryer called the XLERATOR® that dries hands in less than 10 seconds*. The dryers work by blowing off water droplets and evaporating the remaining layer of water vapor with a focused high-velocity air stream and specially-designed nozzle. The XLERATOR is both an effective means of maintaining restroom cleanliness and a conversation piece for patrons, many of whom exit the bathroom talking about how cool it is.

Brian Fitzgerald, who has been a patron of the Bell-in-Hand for seven years, says that he appreciates the convenient location and knowledgeable bar service at the tavern, but has acknowledged that lines to the restroom can be long, especially on busy nights.However, the XLERATOR has alleviated much of the wait. “The XLERATOR is great,” he says. “Your hands are clean and dry in about 10 seconds and you can get out of the bathroom quickly, making the wait outside that much shorter.”

While customers appreciate XLERATOR’S fast results, restaurant managers like Kaplan appreciate the cost savings. According to an independent study, XLERATOR works in one-third the time and uses 80% less energy than traditional hand dryers. It also delivers a 95% cost savings when compared to paper towels and eliminates their maintenance while improving hygiene in the restroom. While creating an environmentally friendly restroom wasn’t Kaplan’s foremost thought, he says that his choice delivers great results and saves money by using less energy than their traditional counterparts. He has also been able to entirely eliminate paper towels from the bathrooms, saving hundreds of dollars a month.

“We get a lot of customer traffic in the bathrooms, which meant there would be paper towels all over the floors by 10 or 11 p.m. because the garbage would fill up so quickly,” says Eddie Kaplan. “Now the bathrooms are a lot cleaner and easier to maintain. I think this is the best dryer on the market today.”

“Now the bathrooms are a lot cleaner and easier to maintain. I think this is the best dryer on the market today.”

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