Rick Boyd – Man about Town
By Bob Tagert
We started the Old Town Crier in January 1988 and almost every month since we have written a personality profile about someone who makes Alexandria click. During that time period we have brought to life somewhere around 408 individuals. Just when we think we have run out of folks to write about, someone pops up. That is the case of longtime friend Rick Boyd. Writing about Rick is more of a cruise back down memory lane over the past 34 years. Ride with us as we listen to one of the guys who helped make it all happen.
Rick Boyd is one of those guys who likes to get things done. Since I first came to Old Town in 1977 I frequented the relatively new restaurants along King and Union Streets. It was during this time that I began to run into Rick working at the different establishments. I asked Rick how he got started in bartending and then managing.
“Well, he began, it all started with my dad when I was a kid. My dad was a martini drinker, so he taught me. I got to the point where I would chill the glass, pour about an ounce of vermouth in the glass and swirl it around, pour it out, then pour the chilled gin into the already seasoned glass, and two olives. I guess after that bartending just came natural to me…I would be making drinks, seven and sevens (Seagrams Seven whiskey and 7Up) and such, for the crowd. When I went to Virginia Tech, my roommate was a bartender in town and when I went to see him he told me to get behind the bar and help…and the rest is history.”
When Rick graduated from Tech with an accounting degree he realized that he didn’t want to “be stuck behind four green walls with a calculator” so he took a friend up on an offer to check out the Mount Vernon Inn. The Inn had recently been sold and was closing for extensive renovations so he followed Barbara Nardelli, who worked at the Inn, to the new Ireland’s Own restaurant. This was around 1981 when Old Town was new and small. “I walked into Irelands Own one day with two friends and asked for three harps and Barbara told me to get behind the bar, get them myself and start tending bar!” Boyd tells me. Thus began Rick’s venture into the world of bartender. When I asked him how many times he heard Pat Troy (eventual owner of Irelands Own) sing the Unicorn Song, he replied, “a thousand times more than I wanted to.”
Sometime in 1982 Rick made the move to the newly opened Chadwick’s. The three founders of Chadwick’s in Georgetown, Mike Kirby, Tom Russo and Joe McGinnis opened their new restaurant in the up and coming Old Town, Alexandria. The folks who were around here in the early 80’s knew and enjoyed the quartet of bartenders that worked at Chadwick’s. “I had the chance to work with the finest bartenders I have ever worked with even to this day,” Rick remembers. “Ben Rogers, Curt Shepard, Walter Rose and Bob Harvey, and Rick Goode were the absolutely best. One time a young lady whistled to get Curt’s attention. He walked over to her and said, ‘You want obedience, you buy a dog!’” Rick continued to recall some of the customers like Jack Taylor of Alexandria Toyota. There are many great stories that need to stay in Chadwick’s but Rick told me one. “A funny thing about Jack Taylor, I was in the Ugly Bartender contest back in 1984”, Rick remembers, “and Jack went to the other Toyota dealerships around the area to get them to write a check to raise money for the cause. Jack’s deal was that for every check he brought in to Chadwick’s I would have to eat a raw egg. I won the contest and I ate a lot of raw eggs!” Another highlight of working with crew at Chads is the fact that Ben Rogers lived on a 40-foot sailboat that was docked on the other side of the parking lot from the restaurant and there a legendary tales about that setup.
After three years at Chadwick’s, Rick moved back to Irelands Own “I had maintained a good relationship with them while I was at Chadwick’s…in fact, I would occasionally pick up a shift at Irelands Own if they needed help.” Around this time, Ireland’s Own wanted to move to Lee Street but the locals came out in protest. “Yeah, Rick tells me, the locals didn’t want another restaurant in that end of town and besides, it was an IRISH RESTAURANT! That was the tag line and it made National news.” After all…you know how those Irishmen are!
Somewhere along this time frame Rick slowly got into the managing side of the business as well. As our conversation began to fall into remembering all the things we did those years ago, other restaurants came into play. Rick spent some time managing and bartending at the old King Street Blues for several years.
In addition to providing stellar bar service Rick was a big part of a philanthropic group in Old Town. “Chico Moline (bartender at the Bayou Room) and Sammy (bartender upstairs at the Wharf) and I started a group called the Fraternal Order of Water Buffalos,” Rick laments. “We were incorporated by the state and local artist Marty Jenkins made water buffalo headdresses for Chico and me. We were a public service group that raised funds for good causes, like the Santa Claus Yacht Club does today. We would rent the Cherry Blossom for a booze cruise, hold golf tournaments and other events.”
Today Rick’s life has slowed down some since our glory days. Rick and his wife Sims live in Alexandria with their 12 year old daughter Violet. He also has three other daughters Julia 25, Colin 27 and Tina 36. Rick has turned the restaurant scene in for a semi-retirement stent at the popular Village Hardware store in the Hollin Hall shopping center on Fort Hunt Road. He is a man of many talents and he shines at assembling the many popular grills that are a mainstay of Village Hardware. Not only does he put them together, he delivers them to clients and sets them up. With nice weather on the way, you might want to check out your grill….do you need something with a few more bells and whistles? If you do, give the store a call and ask for Rick!