Last weekend, Conor O’Neill’s pub in Boulder, Colorado, the home of the world’s shortest annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, closed its doors for what they thought was the last time, only to find themselves pulling the barstools back down again after less than a week out of business.
Tomorrow, the traditional Irish pub will throw open its doors to customers again after owner Colm O’Neill came to an agreement with the pub’s landlord that will keep pints flowing from their taps. Hopefully, for many years to come.
After 17 years in business, Conor O'Neill's Traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant was forced to close last week as a construction project cutting off half of their seating for the past two years had seen a drop in business it was proving difficult to come back from.
Although publically announcing they were calling it a day and holding one last epic goodbye session over the weekend, O’Neill continued in discussions with landlord W. W. Reynolds Companies throughout the early stages of this week and a new deal on rent has now been reached, allowing the pub to reopen and continue with their annual parade.
"We want to stay for the foreseeable future," O’Neill told local Boulder News. "They were very game to keep working to find a solution. We're hopeful it's going to work."
Cork-born O’Neill and his Detroit business partner Tom Murray, whose father hails from Co. Sligo, had already established a successful Irish pub, also name Conor O’Neill’s, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wishing to expand on their business, they took over the Irish American pub, The James, in Boulder in 1999 and had a pub similar to their previous Ann Arbor location built up once again in Ireland before relocating it to Colorado.
Settling with his family by the second of their pubs, O’Neill spent 15 successful years as owner of Conor O’Neill’s before a large-scale construction project, which began in 2014, closed off their patio and half of their seating space, causing a drastic dip in business
Despite paying reduced rent as agreed with the building owner throughout the period of construction, and attempting to strike a deal for more manageable rent to continue until sales went back up again, a deal failed to be reached before last weekend and for the O’Neill’s owners “it just didn't make sense us staying.”
Thankfully, the owners didn’t stop trying, however, and are now hoping to piece the pub back together, despite a few of their decorations going missing over the closing-down festivities of the weekend.
"We're putting stuff back up that we thought we had taken down," he said. "My head is spinning." With most of the staff agreeing to come back and the menu still posted outside, all that’s needed now is the customers and O’Neill hopes that the love shown for the watering-hole since they announced it was closing will continue as they re-open.
"All we need now is support, for people to come in," he said.
The pub also looks set to mark its 18th year with the shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world, which is believed to have started off as a pub crawl. Starting off at O’Neill’s the parade would take a short trip down 13th Street between Walnut and Spruce streets before turning around for a second pass.
“We would have done it for 17 years and it definitely became very popular. People absolutely lapped it up,” O’Neill previously told IrishCentral.