By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,239)
“We are hopeful,” said Mary Henley late this afternoon at Mama’s CrowBar on Munjoy Hill. Her mother, Tricia, was served with an 8-day eviction notice earlier this week from the Bar’s landlord, Shane Dobson. The eviction gives them until Wednesday, March 18 to vacate the property where Tricia has run her neighborhood tavern since 2009. The reason given for the eviction was failure to pay the March rent.
But that isn’t so said Mary. Every month our landlord’s wife comes around to collect the rent. It’s different each month because there are utilities to calculate which vary from month to month. However, this month she never showed up. Instead, the popular neighborhood Bar, named for all of the crows in the area, received an eviction notice. The Bar’s attorney is checking on whether or not this is legal to do. “I don’t think it will hold up in Court. From what I’ve heard, there is rent readily available,” said Taryn Kelley, a family friend who is also a Hill resident.
Mary, a Hill resident as is her mother, said she is relieved that the word is now out about the Bar’s legal battle. People have been stopping in all day to express their surprise and recall memories here. “Before today it was our own battle, but now it’s out in the open,” Mary said referring to local coverage of the eviction notice. “Now it’s a neighborhood battle. I always felt our customers were our family and now we’ve gotten to see they are our family, too. I think our landlord underestimated how much a part of this community we are.” It is expected that the new owner bought the building with the intention of converting it into an Irish bar/restaurant – similar to RiRa’s on Commercial Street.
The building was constructed since 1892. Since that time, it has served a number of business roles in the community According to a scrapbook Mary compiled when researching the history of the building it, has been: a tailor shop, furniture store, laundry, upholstery store, variety store, shoe store, pool hall (twice), plumbing store, dry goods store, meat market, and a lunch diner (twice). In 1968 it became George’s Tavern. Later it became “Awful Annie’s Bar. (Both good stories for another day.) “The Hill is always in a state of change,” explained Mary.
The new landlord tried to have the Bar shut-down two years ago. But the Judge ruled in favor of Tricia – saying that her lease from a former owner was valid and needed to be honored. That lease is up in mid-September 2015. Tricia is jus trying to stay put until the lease is up at that time. It is believed that the new owner purchased the building with the intention of converting it into a bar/restaurant – similar to RiRa’s on Commercial Street. Perhaps he just wanted to get an early start on the summer season by trying to shut it down this month.
Regular and new customers began drifting in late this afternoon. Some knew about the 8-day eviction notice and others did not and were shocked. Amy Smith, a new homeowner in the area said that she’s been walking by and thought it looked like a cool place. “I have to get in there. It’s like the pubs in Ireland,” she said. Regular customer Eliza Kehew said the news that it was closing in the fall was very sad. “Neighborhood bars are becoming extinct. It’s so sad,” said Jeff Gould who was with Kehew. He was referring to the Valentine’s Day 2015 closing of the nearby Sangillo’s Tavern.
Mary does not know where future paychecks will come from.. Most likely, though, from somewhere in the hospitality industry.