ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - They say goodbyes are never easy, but for the O’Gara family, it seemed almost necessary and it wasn’t a decision they took lightly.
“In order to stay relevant and forward thinking we had to do something. I learned from my dad a long time ago that if you stay the same, you go away,” said Dan O’Gara, owner of O’Gara’s Irish Pub.
After 77 years in business, the pub on the corner of Snelling and Selby avenues will be torn down and turned into apartments with the bar taking over a much smaller footprint on the first floor.
“You know, it’s a 110-year-old building,” O’Gara added. “There’s a lot of great benefits to that and there’s a lot of minuses. The maintenance is enormous. We could have spent an enormous amount of money to fix the roof and get the bars up to code.”
So instead, they will be bringing the old to the new. They plan to take many of the artifacts of the original building with them as they go in the form of photographs, the tin ceiling, the wood paneling and a mural painted by the original owner, O’Gara’s grandfather.
“We want the new O’Gara’s to be is a tribute to the old O’Gara’s but something new and fresh,” he added.
“Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz lived in an upstairs apartment as a child, so some of his original cartoons that adorned the walls had to be taken down already due to patrons looking for an early souvenir.
“And I read it in the paper that they were closing the bar so 10 days later I came up here and the first time I saw Danny I grabbed him by the shoulder, I said, ‘What are you doing to my bar?'” said Ed Walsh, an O’Gara’s customer.
So while the regulars are disappointed, it seems inevitable in a neighborhood that’s seeing so much change prompted in part by the new soccer stadium just blocks away.
“Look around here, everything is something new all around here,” Walsh said.
“Starting from a blank canvas is really exciting for me. I mean, it’s been a really emotional week and this weekend is going to be emotional, but I’m also excited because we get to design something from scratch,” O’Gara said.