The U.S. women’s Olympic volleyball team was busy dispatching the Dutch team on the three mega flat screen TVs in the new Munjoy Hill Tavern in the run-up week before the tavern’s official Saturday, August 13, scheduled opening.
Officially open or not, the tavern already was serving up draught pints of beer to eight or so customers who had dropped in that Monday afternoon to check the place out.
Hard liquor was not yet on the shelves, since the shelves were not yet up. And the outdoor back patio area still had to be cleaned up to make it fit for anticipated customers. Getting those and other last-minute tasks done in time for the official opening was the job of owner Stan Dobson, a builder and lifelong resident of Marion Street on Munjoy Hill. He and friends and relatives have been renovating the tavern—formerly known as Mama’s Crowbar, a “beer only, cash only” bar, before it closed last year—for months. The tavern is on Congress Street on the strip between Katie Made Bakery and Homegrown Herb & Tea on the site of a building that burnt down in the 1866 fire that destroyed much of Portland.
The interior walls of the extant building—owned by Dobson’s brother, Shane—had to be ripped out after years of neglect to expose the underlying brick. The bar itself also had to be replaced and the bathrooms refurbished, Dobson said.
Dobson said he hopes the tavern will be seen as a neighborhood asset that sponsors small musical groups, such as the harmonica player and guitarist he’s lining up for the official opening, and fund-raising benefits. He’s also interested in supporting the “fishing guys” by adding seafood and other higher-notch menu items to the usual pub fare of burgers and sandwiches. “We’ll see how it goes,” Dobson said. And the TVs won’t always be tuned into sports, like the Olympics. Customers can watch whatever they want, he said.