Zoning board okays turning Star Café into Irish Heritage Society clubhouse

As the luck of the Irish — or the wisdom of city officials — would have it, Milford’s Irish Heritage Society has gotten permission to turn the old Star Café in Devon into their new club headquarters.

The Planning and Zoning Board recently approved a petition from Thomas B. Lynch, representing the club, for a special permit and site plan review to convert the Star Café into a private club

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, has existed since the 1930s or 1940s.

Milford's Irish Heritage Society had been looking for its own place to call home since forming in 2006, and when the café came on the market, it looked like the perfect fit.

“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.

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 another facility when he noticed 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. Several months ago, he said the club planned to buy the property for $390,000.

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.

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 Righteous Kill inside the café.

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.

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

Lynch said the club is very philanthropic. “It’s fair to say this organization is not just a social group because they are also very active in the community,” he said.

Club members will put plant boxes along the sidewalk, and a fence in the rear.

“It’s basically cleaning up what’s there now,” Lynch said. “The new use will be a major improvement to downtown Devon. The club is committed to turning it around and making it something Devon can be proud of.”

The Planning and Zoning Board approved the club’s application unanimously.