Irish Heritage Society plans to buy Star Café in Devon for club headquarters

The Star Cafe is expected to become the headquarters for Milford's Irish Heritage Society.

The Star Cafe is expected to become the headquarters for Milford’s Irish Heritage Society. (Photo by Ralph Petitti)

The Star Café in Devon, somewhat famous for hosting Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in 2007 when they filmed scenes from their movie Righteous Kill, is expected to close.

The building at 131 Bridgeport Avenue, which has existed since the 1930s or 1940s, will take on a new mission: It will become the clubhouse for Milford’s Irish Heritage Society.

Milford’s Irish Heritage Society has been looking for its own place to call home since forming in 2006.

“We’ve been looking since day one,” said Chris McEnerney, who founded the Irish Heritage Society with Martin Hardiman.

They started out meeting at a local business, then went to the back room of the Stonebridge Restaurant.

“We outgrew the back room in one night,” McEnerney said.

Irish dancers entertain at an Irish Heritage Society event this weekend. The group plans to buy the Star Cafe in Devon to use as its club headquarters.

Irish dancers entertain at an Irish Heritage Society event this weekend. The group plans to buy the Star Cafe in Devon to use as its club headquarters.

From there the group went to Remy’s, a Boston Post Road pub that has changed names several times; then to the Orange Ale House, then to Daniel Street. Still growing, with numbers at more than 500 members now, the group has been meeting at the Costa Azzurra Restaurant.

Member Mike McCabe said he was in Devon looking at the Rivercliff Yacht Club, which the club planned to rent as its new clubhouse. He and a group of members  met at the Bridge House Restaurant, across the street from the yacht club, and restaurant owner Chris Saley pointed out that the Star was for sale.

McCabe said he’d looked at the Star a few years earlier, but the price was too high. This time, he and owner Ray Tooley were able to come to a deal. It’s not finalized yet, but the club plans to buy the property for $390,000. They have collected about $200,000 over the years toward the purchase price of a club, and plan to mortgage the rest. The 2,600-square-foot café comes with a detached house, and the group plans to fix that up and rent it out to offset some of their expenses.

Hardiman said the cinderblock café building is in very good shape, and McCabe said the group will primarily be doing cosmetic work inside. The bar will remain, and the club will likely be open to members Thursdays through Sundays. There are three pool tables in there now, and McCabe said the club will probably keep one. That will leave space for gatherings, and there is a band stand area, too, he said.

“It kind of fell into our laps, and it will definitely work for the club,” McCabe said.

Ideally, members would have liked a site with property, like playing fields, which would have given them room to hold their annual Irish Festival right on site. The festival attracts a flock of people to Fowler Field each year for Irish food, beer, entertainment and Irish culture.

Still, the Star Café is a great location, McEnerney said.

Then there’s the bit of star power the place has: In 2007, people gathered around the building, hoping to catch a glimpse of Pacino and DeNiro when they were shooting some of their movie Righteous Kill inside the café.

The movie is about two aging New York police detectives and longtime partners hunting a serial killer. Crews were shooting scenes in the area when they heard about the Star Café and thought it would be a perfect spot for several scenes. Some local Milford officials jumped in and landed spots as extras.

The Star Café started out with the name Star, and then was known as the Villanova for a time before again becoming the Star Café.

When it is sold, it will be known as the Milford Irish Heritage Society. Club officials expect the sale to be finalized in the next week or two.

Tooley said he’s happy to be selling after owning the place 14 years because he’s looking forward to retirement.

“I’ve been working full time for the railroad company, too, so I’ve been working about 100 hours a week,” Tooley said.

He said he plans to say goodbye to the Star and start enjoying his free time.

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