O'Gara's Bar and Grill will not reopen as planned in original location

O'Gara's Bar and Grill will not reopen as planned in original location Photo: KSTP-TV

Updated: November 04, 2019 06:53 PM

O'Gara's Bar and Grill, a St. Paul institution for more than 75 years, will not reopen its original location at Snelling and Selby Avenues.

According to a statement released on Sunday, O'Gara's will not resume business at its original location, although it will continue to operate its State Fair location during the fair, special events at the fairground and at catered events.

"It is with sadness that we share the news that we have decided not to re-open the original location," said Dan O'Gara, the third-generation owner. "This decision was made after considerable reflection and analysis. My wife Kris and I understand how disappointing this will be to our long-standing patrons and staff. We want to thank everyone for the loyalty and joy that the neighborhood has shown us throughout the years."

O'Gara told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Monday the standing of the business could've been gambled with, but ultimately wasn't the best way to go about it.

"We could have sustained it for five or six years, but I think the risk going forward would have been too difficult to succeed in the long term," he said.

O'Gara stated that the restaurant was originally scheduled to reopen in early 2020, but the changing regulatory environment and the increase in competition from taprooms made the re-opening in St. Paul "financially untenable." 

"If O'Gara's was a national chain I could absorb these costs into my business. I cannot responsibly do so as an independent restaurant," O'Gara said.

Small business owners have worried aloud about the impact and cost of regulations put in place by city leaders, such as an increase in minimum wage along with paid safe and sick time.

"The developer Ryan Companies, as well as other St. Paul establishments and businesses, were exceptional partners as we attempted to find another solution," O'Gara said. "We look forward to focusing our efforts on our State Fair location and re-connecting with our customers throughout the year."

Sunday on O'Gara's website, a statement issued in the fall of 2018 remained up which said, "We are not closing, we are reinventing ourselves." 

At the time, no one envisioned it would be O'Gara's last call. 

"They've been an institution for so many years. I've been going there for over 20 years and to see it going away is disappointing," said longtime customer Dede Ciprari.

The owners are expected to hold a press briefing Monday to take questions and explain what influenced their decision.

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KSTP & Beth McDonough

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