Maguires Hill 16 Closing After Five Decades in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Sunday is closing day for Maguires Hill 16.
Sunday is closing day for Maguires Hill 16.
Courtesy of Maguires Hill 16
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Maguires Hill 16, Fort Lauderdale's classic Irish bar, is scheduled to close Sunday night after 50 years in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The haunt that draws hordes every St. Patrick's Day and has been home to thousands of lovers, haters, fighters, and geniuses, has been purchased by a hospitality group, owner Jim Gregory says.

"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 Kildaire, on the Emerald Isle, and South Florida. "I was going to buy an apartment," he says, "but instead I bought a bar."

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. 

Maguires Hill 16 Closing After Five Decades in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
Courtesy of Maguires Hill 16

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."

Tim Petrillo, cofounder of the Restaurant People, added, "We like the property and have a lot of property in that area already. We see Flagler Village as an up-and-coming area and are looking forward to helping it grow."

Sports has been a big deal at Maguires, and Sunday's playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers is sure to draw a hefty crowd. The bar will open at 11 a.m. Sunday and close at midnight.

"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.

Nicole Danna contributed to this report.

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