Jamaica Plain

Neighborhood personalities infuse hope
By Diana Schoberg

Kathie Mainzer of Bella Luna, 405 Centre St., thinks the mural on her restaurant is an affirmation of the community.

Kathie Mainzer likes to think that as the gateway to the Hyde Square area, the mural on the side of her restaurant says to passersby, “Welcome to a fun zone.”

Of course, it wasn’t always that way.

Mainzer and some neighbors opened the Bella Luna restaurant in 1993 in a building that had been boarded up for several years after landlord Stavros Frantzis closed down a dangerous nightclub. Frantzis was looking for a nice sit-down restaurant to bring some stability to the area, she explains.

“People were very scared to come to Jamaica Plain at that time,” she says as she stands outside the space-age themed restaurant, where the menu features “astral antipasto” and “stellar chicken” and paper stars hang from the ceiling.

Mainzer took a “broken windows” philosophy from neighborhood policing when she invited a neighborhood artist to paint an Italian scene on the large graffiti-covered wall on the building: “You fix a window and it makes people feel better and take better care of the space.”

The artist, Heidi Schork, went on to direct the city’s mural program, which gives teens summer jobs painting murals across the city. Schork asked the restaurant if they’d like to update their mural, and in 1997 the Mural Crew painted “A Tribute to Gauguin.”

The mural, a collage of three paintings of the French post-impressionist painter, had a lot of fruit and trees and “a couple of naked ladies, which was fun,” Mainzer explains. “It just sort of reflected the tropical spirit of Jamaica Plain.”

For this mural, painted in 2001, the restaurant wanted something to represent the people of the neighborhood.

A few years later Schork came back with a new group of students and asked the restaurant owners if it they would like another mural. This time, Mainzer says, they had something particular in mind.

“We really wanted something that told a more specific story about Jamaica Plain and the people who helped to create this part of Jamaica Plain,” she says.

And so, the current mural, painted during the summer of 2001, celebrates Hyde Square. The mural depicts the Jamaica Plain World’s Fair, an annual festival in the neighborhood, as well as triple-deckers and Jamaica Pond. Community members painted on the mural represent the neighborhood’s spirit: Pepe Gutierrez, one of the owners of a restaurant down the street; Tony Barros, who Mainzer calls the “unofficial mayor of Jamaica Plain”; and Frantzis, the landlord. Greats like Bob Marley and Tito Puente grace the mural as well. Our Lady of Guadalupe sits on the edge of the building to give it positive energy.

“I think it’s a real boost, a positive affirmation of the neighborhood,” Mainzer says. “It makes people feel good. It makes them feel pride in who we are and what we’ve been able to accomplish.”


Jamaica Plain Home
Bella Luna

Memories of Changes

One police officer's memories of changes in Hyde Square over the past 30 years.

Photo Gallery
Bella Luna Mural


Bella Luna Restaurant

Home |About Us | Contact |
Boston - City in Transition -| Copyright © 2004. All Rights Reserved.