Conor O'Neill's Traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant, the popular watering hole just off the Pearl Street Mall and host of the annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, will close after 17 years in business.
Manager Samuel Blundell, who's worked at Conor O'Neill's for six years, said the owners told him that they're closing because sales dropped during the 18 months of construction on the a new building next door, then didn't rebound fast enough.
The bar, located at 1922 13th St., told staff members on Thursday and Friday. The owners then made the announcement Saturday night on the bar's Facebook page and via Twitter that it will serve its last Guinness on Oct. 2.
Blundell said the restaurant's back room and patio were closed for 18 months to accommodate building a three-story office building on the parking lot next door.
During construction, the building's owner, W.W. Reynolds Companies, gave a discount on the rent, he said, but once the restaurant was fully reopened "sales were slower to rebound."
He said Conor's owners were in negotiations to lower the rent to give the restaurant more time to increase sales, but "we couldn't find a meeting of the minds."
Along with slower sales, he said, the restaurant also was hit with a property tax and rent increase.
"It's unfortunate," he said. "We really all thought we could come to an accommodation, but I can understand that business is business."
He said he's seen a "huge response" of people coming in to say goodbye since the news was shared, and he expects even more for their last weekend, when the restaurant's Facebook page promised "one hell of a bash." The restaurant's official 17th anniversary also is Wednesday.
"It is an Irish pub in a true sense," Blundell said. "It's a community. We have lots of regulars and several people who come on their anniversary every year because this is where they met their husband or wife. It's sad to see it close."
Conor O'Neill's opened in 1999, taking over the 13th Street location from 20-year mainstay The James Pub and Grill. Co-owners Colm O'Neill and Tom Murray told the Daily Camera at the time that they were opening one of the classiest Irish pubs in the country.
"We built the whole restaurant in Ireland. The light fixtures, the furniture, the antiques, and even the paintings on the walls were all made in Ireland and shipped over," O`Neill told the Camera in 1999. "We even have four Irish bartenders who have come over to the states to work for us."
Boulder's Peter Wayne said he was first a patron at The James, then became a Conor O'Neill's regular after it opened. He said he liked the casual, relaxed atmosphere. Plus, he said, some of the staff members have worked there for years and know the regulars by name.
"It's the type of place where you could always meet someone new and have a conversation," he said. "It is also a great place for having large and small groups of friends. This establishment will be missed. A little something in the culture of Boulder will dwindle when this closes."
Conor O'Neill's also took over the so-called World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, which had started as a Boulder pub crawl, in 2000, creating a (slightly) more formal parade that had always held the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day.
The parade, the fate of which is unknown, starts at Conor O'Neill's, then takes a short trip down 13th Street between Walnut and Spruce streets before turning around for a second pass.
Blundell said that while the restaurant sponsors the parade, a separate group is in charge of organizing it -- and it will be up to them to find another location.
"I'm sure they'll find some place to keep it alive," he said.