Dan O’Gara announced over the weekend that his namesake watering hole, O’Gara’s Bar & Grill, would not reopen in a new development on the site of the 77-year-old bar, as originally planned.
“The changing regulatory environment and increased competition from taprooms made re-entering the market in St. Paul financially untenable,” a statement from the owners read.
As of Monday afternoon, reader comments were pouring in on our story. Many of the people who took the time to respond were not thrilled with the news that St. Paul would permanently lose such an institution.
Here are some of the highlights of the comments section.
Some agreed with Dan O’Gara’s point of view on regulations, while others disputed it.
wegman: “Over regulation KILLS jobs.”
rjford: “... The excuses feel very thin. “We’re tired of doing this for a living” is a fine explanation. I wouldn’t blame them for a second.”
Chaci: “If the regulations in Saint Paul are so bad why are hundreds of other restaurants and bars still in business? Shouldn’t their businesses also be “financially untenable”?”
Some decried developers as the problem.
goldencro: “Sounds like what happened at Nye’s when they wanted to develop. it’ the city who keeps getting suckered on these deals.”
geekfreedom: “Real estate developers often destroy the character that initially drew them to an area. Witness Uptown and Dinky town in Minneapolis.”
Some sympathized with the decision to close.
Landshark: “What most folks don’t understand is owning and operating a bar/restaurant is not a job. It is a life style. Long hours with the hope of a reward at the end.”
roughonrats: “I am not surprised. I think they got used to having evenings and weekends to spend with family and friends.”
aethos: “...It’s sad to see them make this decision but I can understand the realities of operating like this. I know a number of Saint Paul bar owners and the pressures can be terrible. You can make money, yes, but it’s getting harder and harder to balance bringing in customers with the politics of operating in the city. I’ve seen so many bars and restaurants turn over in the last 10 years as owners bailed.
I hope Saint Paul can keep its charm and character. I’d much rather go dining there than in Minneapolis.”
herschel78: “A great old landmark. Sorry to see it go.”
Others announced they never liked the place much, anyway.
crusoe: “I’m sure it was lovely in 1944. I went in there once - smelled like last year’s corned beef and cabbage...”
skcrooged: “If I had a dollar for every time I was there, I’d have a dollar.”
dirleton: “Really liked it when it was a small, quaint, local Irish pub. That was a long time ago.”
Some readers offered ideas to keep O’Gara’s in business.
cpcasserly: “We could bring back the 19-year-old drinking age.”
Aldini: “It wouldn’t hurt to staff more than 1 bartender for every 90 customers waiting for a drink. It was always that way as long as I can remember.”
Circa1963: “... How about having only one regular and one light macro tap, since people who drink bud, coors, and miller usually prefer it in the can or bottle? How about a fresh tap program where you have some regulars, but reserve a third of them for rotating new or seasonal beers? How about you have food that is good, especially for sharing. Elevated tots and fries with garlic, cheese sauce, cajun, etc is cheap, and shareable and can keep people drinking. Have a menu that reduces individual items, but increases choices. I hate menus with 12 burgers and one chicken sandwich. How about you tee up toppings, a few classics and let the customer pick burger, chicken breast, turkey burger, impossible burger, or even salmon patty.”
cpcasserly, again: “If you can’t beat ‘em: Start a taproom in the bar.”
Some tried to predict the future for the location:
Qmfgr: “It will become full of chain shops that lack any character or charm. Just like a million other corners everywhere.”
mmlydon: “Perhaps there’s an opportunity for a new purveyor of food and drink to open a neighborhood pub on the corner? ...along the lines of Emmett’s Public House on Grand or George and The Dragon in South Minneapolis - warm and charming spots with tasty food and drink.”
And some just complained about the other comments.
K-nut: “Wow the man is simply saying goodbye and you feel the need to kick his dog.”
foreseer2: “Many of these comments are the equivalent of spitting on a grave.”