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Bars where Pete has had a Drink (5,585 bars; 1,754 bars in Seattle) - Click titles below for Lists:


Bars where Pete has had a drink

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

#5037 - Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA - 3/9/2023

Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA

There was one other customer in Sullivan's when I stepped in on this afternoon, shortly after they opened. Of course it will be different on Friday and Saturday nights, when the bar routinely serves over 400 people, and most spectacularly on next Friday, as they block off the street and expect over 10,000 customers on St. Patricks Day.

These are a few of the bits of info I got from friendly bartender Julia. She also showed me the doorbell said to have been installed for the prohibition days, and the slightly scary ladder down a hole behind the bar to what used to be tunnels -- now sealed in -- and currently serves as beer storage, an office, and occasionally a way to for the bartender to get between rooms when the crowd is too thick. There is a brass bar at counter level in front of the hole now, which Julia explained was installed after the owner's wife fell down it (she apparently was not too badly injured).




Bartender Julia, Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA

The bar claims to be the seventh oldest Irish bar in the country (I found several older references to being the sixth oldest, so apparently there was a recent correction). It was established as a bar and as "Sullivan's" in 1905, in a building that tax records say was constructed in 1892. It was closed for 19 months due to COVID, and finally reopened, after some remodeling, Oct 15, 2021. It features an interesting back bar; the origins of it were not exactly clear, but it appears to have been obtained by the current owners. It is of a sort of art deco style, with metal plates on the columns featuring bas relief female figures.



Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA
Hole behind the bar
All of his is set two to three blocks from the southwest shores of Lake Erie, and close to Gannon University, which tends to contribute more than its fair share of customers.

For a helpful history of the place, I'll quote from the bar's own web site:

"Sullivan’s Pub and Eatery is proud to be the oldest public house in Erie, serving the community since 1905.

The seventh oldest Irish bar in the United States, Sullivan’s has been a proud member of the Erie Downtown community since its opening in 1905 by prominent First Ward politician John L. Sullivan and his wife Alice. The Sullivan family were lifelong residents of the First Ward and members of St. Patrick’s church. Under the ownership of John and Alice, Sullivan’s became a central neighborhood hot spot and a pillar of the Erie Irish community.

In 1950, Margaret Sullivan Heinz, daughter of John and Alice, assumed ownership of the cafe. Margaret’s brother, Emmet J. “Jiggs” Sullivan, helped her run the cafe. Jiggs was a retired fireman from Fire Station #1 on French Street (formerly Pufferbelly), just two blocks from the cafe. It was during this time that people started recognizing Sullivan’s for having great food. Maggie and Jiggs served a menu consisting of Irish and American fare. The cafe was also known as the “Glue Pot” because once you went in, you couldn’t get out. In fact, one afternoon the firemen from Station #1 went into Sullivan’s for lunch and wound up staying all afternoon to play cards. When a building directly behind the firehouse went up in flames, the neighborhood had to rush down to Sullivan’s to drag the firemen out of the “Glue Pot”!

Doorbell said to have been installed 
for use during prohibition

In 1960, the Powers family, another Irish brood, purchased Sullivan’s. During this time, the cafe was a regular stop for many Hamot Hospital employees and Gannon College students. There were many that gathered at Happy Hour when Mr. Powers would appear from the kitchen with a large freshly baked ham and say with an Irish accent, “Well now, would anyone be wantin’ a bit O’ this delicious ham?” Then he would slice the ham into sandwiches which the patrons would pass down the length of the bar.

In 1989, the cafe was purchased by the present owners [Ron and Rick Filippi]. Intent upon preserving a part of Erie history, the group invested time, effort, and resources into completely restoring the century old building while retaining the Irish flavor that has been so popular in the Erie community. The present owners expanded the food menu, remodeled the dining room, kitchen, and added the dance floor."




























301 French St, Erie, PA 16507 - (814) 452-3446
Est. 1905 - Building constructed: 1892
Previous bars in this location: None known 
Web site: sullivanspuberiepa.com - facebook 
Reviews: goerie - yelp - goerie 

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