New owners close The Irish Pub temporarily, promise improvement

Changes to bar staff leave former employees feeling "disgruntled"

The Irish Pub, 124 N. Water St.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:23 pm

The Irish Pub

The Irish Pub in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward has temporarily closed as new owners Adam and Melissa Weber make changes to both the building and the business.

The couple, who recently moved to Milwaukee from Chicago, purchased the bar restaurant and its 114-year-old building, located at 124 N. Water St., last month from John Duggan after he had owned it for almost 12 years.

Adam, a long-time Chicago restauranteur, and Melissa, a Milwaukee-native who also has experience in Chicago’s restaurant scene, moved to the city to be closer to Melissa’s family.

The couple had no plans to make major changes to The Irish Pub or its staff when they purchased it in December, Duggan said last month when he sold the bar.

But then the closure was announced yesterday on The Irish Pub’s Facebook page, which has since been taken down: “The Irish Pub has enjoyed many a good time filled with merriment and laughter. Our aging building has stood up well, but now requires some much needed maintenance and repair. ‘Pardon Our Dust’ signs don’t work well where food and drinks are served, so regrettably, as we make our changes, we’ll need to hit the pause button with a temporary close.”

During the temporary closure, the bar plans to add a selection of craft cocktails to its beverage selection and to incorporate both creativity and “some extreme talent” from the industry into the business, Weber said.  

The bar’s reopening date will be determined and released once the building’s renovation plans are finalized, Melissa Weber said in an email to BizTimes Milwaukee.

“It will definitely be worth the time we are taking and the steps thus far that led to this temporary shutdown,” she said.

When the bar closed, all staff members were eliminated and were invited to reapply for their jobs when a reopening date is determined. That move surprised and angered many of the bar’s employees.

“We felt (it) was poor business and etiquette since there was a ‘promise’ of retaining the staff, image and customers,” Alexander Dey, a former employee of The Irish Pub who had worked there for two years as a bouncer and barback, said in an email to BizTimes Milwaukee. “There are many disgruntled ex-staff and clientele.”

Dey said the Webers held a staff meeting on Jan. 9 to inform employees of the closure and changes and the opportunity to later reapply. He said many staff members had worked at the bar for five or more years and many were dependent on the income.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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