Maguires Hill 16, Fort Lauderdale's classic Irish bar, is scheduled to close Sunday night after 50 years in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
"It's time to move on," he says. "I am 77 years old, and I have been doing this since 1999."
The Maguires name has been in Fort Lauderdale for 50 years, adds Gregory, who has owned five bars in Ireland and still splits his time between
His son James and wife Martina have worked at the bar since Gregory purchased it. And hundreds of bands and thousands of hard drinkers have walked through its doors. "The greatest memories are always St. Patrick's Day: We drew 4,500 people last year and 5,000 the year before," James says. "For an Irish bar that is not in New York or Boston, but in sunny Florida, to draw so many Irish-Americans, that is an absolute honor."
James, age 41, says developers have bought much of the surrounding land, so it's hard to find parking for big events. The family held out for quite a while "and got a very good price," he says.
The new owner, the Restaurant People, which also owns YOLO, Tarpon Bend, and Boat Yard, at first said it might keep the place open. But then, this past Thursday, the group said it needed "a full close," James says.
A Restaurant People representative couldn't say whether the bar would reopen but said the company had been trying for a while to acquire the property. "The whole transaction happened quickly and suddenly," marketing coordinator Susan Penrod says. "I don't think anybody knows what is going to happen to the building at this time."
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"I have had all great moments in this bar," Jim Gregory says. "Never had a bad one."
Maguires Hill 16
535 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-764-4453; maguireshill16.com.