BOSTON – Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody's name, at least when he started working at the tavern that inspired the television show "Cheers."
To the tens of thousands of tourists that later passed through, Doyle remained behind the bar to offer a smile, a beer and tips about where to find the Boston that wasn't shown on TV.
Now Doyle is out of a job, laid off from "Cheers" after 35 years.
The bar's owner has said a tough economy and sagging business forced the move, which was one of several layoffs.
Doyle said he's not bitter about being laid off, just surprised and a little sad.
"This bar, for me ... it was not just another job," Doyle said. "It was the perfect job."
Longtime friend and lifelong bartender Tommy Leonard called Doyle's exit "the end of an era," and said Doyle was one of the most giving men he knows.
"He just has a way to connect," Leonard said. "If you want to feel good about yourself you go in and see Eddie Doyle, whether you were a total stranger or a longtime friend."
Doyle, who was laid off in February, has spent the last few weeks cleaning out his office, and reflecting on what he considered a great run.
He began working at the pub in 1974, after a few years bouncing around the advertising world as a graphic artist. He'd worked occasionally as a barkeep and said the fast pace and personalities sucked him in. He took a regular shift at the restaurant above the bar, then moved downstairs, turning down a chance to head the grater chewing out a customer for leaving a $1 tip on a $100 bill.
At the height of the show's popularity, 3,000 people would pass through the bar daily, and 5,000 on weekends, Doyle said. The traffic kept him hopping and filled his pockets. But many of the regulars who didn't appreciate the crush of people wandered to new haunts. It didn't matter much to Doyle, who used the bar's fame to start a charity auction.
He started the annual "Cheers for Children" charity in 1979, which hit the $1 million mark in donations 25 years later. The charity will end with his time at the bar.
Doyle said he doesn't know what's next, but added he's grateful to be at an age where he can take time and think about it. His boss is paying him until the end of the year, but his last day at Cheers will come at a going-away party later this month.
He'll be leaving a place best known for the fiction it inspired, but was actually a lot like it, despite sometimes goofy plots, Doyle said. The interactions between characters remind him of what the real Cheers was: "a bunch of eccentrics that could get together and become friends," Doyle said.
"When it came down to the end, I said, you know, they actually hit it right on the head," he said.