In 1977 Mick McHugh and his partner opened what would become one of Seattle's most popular bars, known for its food, fanfare, and the fantastic selection of spirits.
"It was a little scary, to be honest with you," he said.
Two million dollars for 11,000 square feet in a building that was already 70 years old at the time. 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?" said McHugh.
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.
Monday, McHugh dropped the bomb. The bar is closing its doors June 11, and they're packing everything they don't auction off. Two weeks later, the entire building will undergo a seismic retrofit to bring it up to earthquake code. But instead of moving back in, McHugh is moving on. He went to the Pioneer Square Alliance and told them he wanted someplace close, within two blocks, just 5,000 square feet this time.
"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.
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