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F.X. McRory's, one of Seattle's most popular bars that became a hub for sports fans, is closing its doors this weekend with plans to move a couple blocks away into a much smaller space.
Co-founder Mick McHugh made the announcement last month that the bar would close its doors this Sunday. Everything that isn't auctioned off will be packed away. McHugh told the Pioneer Square Alliance he wanted someplace else -- within two blocks -- but wants to downsize by more than half to 5,000 square feet.
McHugh and his partner opened the bar in 1977, located right next to the Kingdome. Two million dollars for 11,000 square feet in a building that was already 70 years old at the time.
"It was a little scary, to be honest with you," he said.
It was a big gamble with its Irish pub feel. The long marble bar, 19-foot ceilings, and a whiskey selection that boggles the mind. At first, people weren't sure what to make of it.
"They didn't like the tall ceilings and the hard surfaces and the marble. So they were kind of standoffish a little bit. What is this place? You know?" McHugh said.
It would become known for its food, fanfare, and the fantastic selection of spirits.
In 1978, F.X. McRory's became just the second bar anywhere on the west coast with permission to serve Guinness on tap.
"It was a big deal. We had to write to Lord Iveagh to get it on tap. It was only in San Francisco," he said.
Then there's the one-of-a-kind painting of the bar by LeRoy Neiman. McHugh and his partner paid him $100,000 for it, and he displayed it the following year on St. Patrick's Day. A collage of sorts with Neiman's brilliant touch that helped to cement F.X. McRory's place in Seattle history.
"If there's no space in the hood, then I'm gonna call it a career. And by God, they found a couple spaces," he said.
With a new building half the size of his current location, McHugh might not have to survive on the feast or famine that is his current business model.
"You know, here we are, a weeknight, not quite that busy," said McHugh. "But a couple nights ago, U2 or with the soccer game, or you know, it's a big deal, and then it's full."
The hard part, he admits, will be recreating the same feel in the signature bar. He's hoping to take what he can with him, including some crown molding, a few of the marble tables, the chandeliers, maybe even the massive bar.
"And where gonna have our bar like this and we're gonna McRoryize whatever space we go into, to take a little of our soul over there with us," said McHugh.
Whether he will take the clock outside the bar that bears the F.X. McRory's name; he hadn't thought about that yet. Only time will tell.
Two weeks after the closure, the entire building will undergo a seismic retrofit to bring it up to earthquake code.
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