By Jordan Collier
When The Paddy Wagon pub burned down last year a major blow was struck to Richmond’s bar scene. The flames claimed a popular student hangout, leaving many former patrons searching for a new haunt.EKU student Jarrod Bentley counts himself among that number and was upset when the Irish pub burned to the ground.
“I was distraught,” Bentley said. “I thought dollar draft nights on Tuesday were amazing, easily the best deal in town. It was very depressing. It was my Tuesday night hangout.”
The bar’s co-owners, EKU professors Chuck Fields and Greg Ferrell, were also dismayed by the loss of their bar.
“The fire was just devastating to all of us,” Fields said. “I miss the old building because of the old building atmosphere. But it’s a double-edged sword because that’s basically what caused the fire. This new building is great and as time goes by I think it’ll feel more like the old one.”
The Paddy Wagon reopened at its new location on June 26. Many students who’ve been to the new place said that they like it even better than the old Paddy Wagon, describing it as an awesome place to be.
“I think it came back twice as strong,” Bentley said. “I love that they put in all the different drafts, the selection is great. They did a really good job with the bar and everything, it’s super nice in there. It’s definitely an awesome spot for lunch.”
Ferrell said Bentley’s reaction is not uncommon.
“I think a lot of people when they come in they say wow,” said Ferrell. “A lot of them comment that it looks like a pub in Ireland. It’s very unique to Richmond. When they walk in I think they feel like they’re in a larger town-or even in Ireland.”
As big of a setback as the fire was, Ferrell and Fields did use the opportunity to make some changes. The co-owners said that the new establishment is much larger, with a full sized kitchen and expanded menu. The new menu features nearly 100 beers from different countries, 40 of which are on tap. The shape of the actual bar itself also changed. The old bar was against the wall, with the new bar has a rectangular horseshoe shape with more space on both sides.
Much of the old memorabilia was lost, so the owners had to replace it with new things. Of particular note are a vintage British phone booth and a double-decker bus used for special occasions like tailgating.
“We’ve tried to keep the atmosphere as similar as possible to the old location,” Ferrell said. “We’ve had some growing pains. It was definitely a Murphy’s Law situation. We’re trying to make it as nice for the customers as possible.”
Fields and Ferrell were also proud of the fact that they’ve been able to successfully prohibit underage drinking at the pub.
“We get a lot of younger students coming in, but one thing we take very seriously is we are a pub that serves food,” Fields said. “No one under 21 is allowed through the door. At the other place in the 3 years that we’ve been open we did not have one ABC violation.”
The Paddy Wagon is open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., with live music at least threew days a week-usually Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tuesday nights feature dollar drafts and Fields called it the unofficial college night. Ferrell said that the new bar had a diverse and eclectic feel, sporting decorations from around the world and showcasing live music from various genres including blues, jazz, blue grass, and of course Irish music.
The co-owners originally intended to open the bar on Saint Patrick’s Day, but the job was more complex than originally thought. Fields and Ferrell said that the amazing thing about this is that 90 percent of the employees they hired in February are still with them now, and that they got most of their old regular customers back.
“We would just like to thank one more time all of those that stuck by us through the rebuilding and came back,” Fields said.