How the Recovery Room Owner Recovered

Charleston dive bar owner Chris DiMattia remembers his hometown every day thanks to the single landline phone in a house he rented as a student at the College of Charleston.

This was before cell phones became ubiquitous. The downtown shared house in the late 1990s had three occupants named Chris. DiMattia was the one from the Boston area. So when people called, they asked for “the Boston one.” Soon “Boston” became his nickname. These days, some people probably don’t realize his first name is Chris.

But they know what he sells – and a lot – Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. DiMattia’s Recovery Room Tavern on King Street sells more cans of PBR than any other bar in the country. At one point it sold more PBR overall than anywhere else in the world, but that was changed by the pandemic and tourists who gentrified the drink selections at the bar. People used to order PBR and a shot of bourbon, he said. Now they can order a Jager Bomb (a shot of Jagermeister and Red Bull), a vodka and Red Bull or another drink of the moment popular with AirBnB visitors.

The recovery room continues to be filled with many regulars, DiMattia said, but that’s slowly changing, like everything else.

“The working crowd that has been our bread and butter for so long can no longer afford to live downtown,” he said.

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