O’Shucks on Main Street celebrates 25-year anniversary
What: O’Shucks 25th anniversary celebration
When: all day on Monday, Aug. 19
Where: 427 Main St.
On Monday, O’Shucks Bar & Grill, voted the No. 1 dive bar in America by readers of Ski Magazine, will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
And by 25th anniversary, owners Bruce and Debra Corrigan mean the bar has opened every day since Aug. 19, 1994 – 9,131 days.
To commemorate the bar’s silver anniversary, the Corrigans are inviting as many former employees to the basement watering hole at 427 Main Street as they can find to come share a few drinks and a lot of laughs with the public.
“We stay in touch with at least 80 percent of the kids who used to work here,” Bruce said. “I talk with them at least once a year.”
The first 100 people through the door will get commemorative T-shirts and the couple will hand out beer cozies and window decals designed by Debra.
O’Shucks’ employees are the secret of the bar’s nonstop run despite the reign of the DABC, according to Bruce.
“They’ve been on top of those Utah liquor law rules and regulations, and, praise the lord, we have never had a violation or a mandated shutdown,” he said.
The bar was even honored by the Pabst Brewing Company as the most prolific seller of their Blue Ribbon in 2014.
“We always have an inexpensive beer in the can that started with Hamm’s,” Bruce said. “We switched to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and became the No. 1 Pabst Blue Ribbon account in the world.”
To commemorate, Pabst’s executives visited O’Shucks.
“They congratulated us and said, ‘Show us your building,’” Bruce said. “So, we walked to the back and said, ‘here you go.’ And they said, ‘no, show us the dance hall.’ and I said, ‘We don’t have a dance hall. This is it.’ They said, ‘You sell that much PBR out of this place?’”
The Corrigans opened the first O’Shucks in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the mid 1980s, Bruce said.
The couple moved to Salt Lake City in 1988, and relocated to Park City in 1992.
“We had always wanted to do another one, and we felt there was an opening for us to do so when we moved up here,” he said.
Their goal was to open a bar where locals who couldn’t afford Park City’s fine dining could come and enjoy historic Main Street, Bruce said.
“We felt, at that time, that everyone was falling for the white tablecloths and there was no one really taking care of the ‘hourlies,’ as we called them,” he said. “These are the ski instructors, the lifties and the lot.”
The Corrigans also decided to stay open on every Thanksgiving for seasonal workers who Debra called “our ski orphans.”
“Everyone on Main Street closed that day, and there were a lot of ski kids who were here for the season and didn’t have many friends,” Bruce said. “So during the early years we would cook turkeys and feed everyone on Thanksgiving. Now, no one lives in Old Town, so that’s going by the wayside.”
One O’Shucks tradition that hasn’t fizzled out is Tuesday’s locals nights, which have offered $3 schooners and hamburgers since the beginning.
“That was 25 years ago,” Bruce said. “A keg of beer was $15 to $30. A pound of hamburger was 99 cents.”
Today, Tuesday local nights still offer those $3 schooners and $3 burgers.
“Our prices have not changed, even though that same keg of beer costs more than $100 and the pound of hamburger is $3,” Bruce said. “Our accountants don’t think that’s a great idea, but we still feel that if all of those lifties and ski bums were working in Park City, they should be able to come to Main Street at least one night and be able to have fun with everyone.”
Bruce also felt if they “superserved” the locals, they would get more business from the out-of-towners.
“Tourists would ask the instructors and lifties where the cool places to visit were, and they would tell them about us,” he said.
The Corrigans came across the 427 Main St. location through Bruce’s job working in radio.
He had done some work promoting a venue called Z Place, which is now Park City Live.
“We would advertise the bands that would play there,” Bruce said. “And things evolved naturally from there.”
Deb and Bruce fell in love with the 15- by 125-foot basement space.
“It has a lot of history,” Deb said. “It used to be the Park City Police’s firing range, an Italian deli and an arcade, which explains all the electrical outlets.”
The space was also very green, Bruce said.
“It had the ugliest green shag carpeting I had ever seen, and even the brick walls were painted with a thick coat of green paint,” he said laughing.
The Corrigans signed the lease in late April 1994 and worked hard for four months to get it ready for the grand opening.
“We pulled up the carpet and a couple of buddies of ours said they could sandblast the paint off walls,” Bruce said. “They started to sandblast, but almost killed themselves, because there is no ventilation down here. So after about two hours, they called and said they couldn’t do it.”
Bruce and Debra were then approached by a guy who did graffiti removal.
“He gave us a price and brought in his chemicals and tested some spots, where he was able to get the paint right off,” Bruce said. “He thought it would take him two or three days to finish the job, but it took him a better part of a month to reveal the bricks. And you can see there are still bits of green paint.”
The eclectic variety of items that adorn the walls today have been accumulated over the past quarter of a century.
License plates, Park City Mountain Resort ski map, a surfboard and an old 48-star American flag are some of the decor that have given O’Shucks some character.
“All of these things have a story that goes along with them,” Bruce said.
Some of the stories are fun.
“If you look closely at the surfboard, you will see it has been autographed by Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli, who used to live in town,” Bruce said.
Other stories have become fun over a period of time.
“When we first put up the flag, we didn’t have it encased in glass,” Bruce said. “The day Shannon Nobis won the U.S. National giant slalom, she came in the bar full of adrenaline and took a Sharpie and autographed the flag.”
Bruce came unglued even though he knew Nobis didn’t mean any harm.
“The next day, the coaches took the flag down and had it professionally cleaned,” he said. “They told us the team was here to represent the flag, not to deface it.”
Nobis wasn’t the only world-class skier who has patronized O’Shucks.
O’Shucks became like a second home for the American and Austrian national ski teams in the early days of the World Cup, Bruce said.
“We had Alberto Tomba and Hermann ‘The Hermannator’ Meyer, and all those great skiers come in regularly,” he said.
One year, Hermann won the GS, and the Austrians came in to celebrate in a big way, according to Bruce.
“After they finished a beer, they’d slam and break the schooner on the ground,” he said. “After the third one, we had to say something and asked them to leave. The team came in the next day and apologized.”
O’Shucks also became the place to go for ski-team fundraising, Debra said.
“We held a fundraiser for the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team when Jessica Jerome and Lindsey Van were 12 or 13 years old,” she said.
“We’ve also done fundraisers for the kids who skied on the World Freestyle Skiing tour,” Bruce said. “We have also done fundraisers when people have passed away and when people have gotten injured.”
Bruce never envisioned O’Shucks being open for a quarter-century.
“Our first lease was for 10 years, and that seemed like an eternity at the time,” he said.
While former and present employees have been instrumental in keeping O’Shucks open day in and day out, the Corrigans are also grateful for their landlord, Kenny Griswold, and the city government.
“Kenny has worked well with us over the years,” Bruce said. “And we had a lot of help from Dana Williams when he was mayor.”
Other longtime Parkites that have supported O’Shucks include the city’s Economic Development Manager Johnny Weidenhamer, the late councilwoman Candy Erkisen and retired councilwoman Liza Simpson.
“They have all been great to us,” Bruce said.
In 1997, the Corrigans opened a second O’Shucks location in downtown Salt Lake City, and in 2006, they opened another in Quarry Village in Pinebrook. Both are still open to this day.
“We wanted to make that one for families, because our kids weren’t able to come into our other places,” Debra said. “So we licensed it as a restaurant.”
The Corrigans are proud of what O’Shucks has accomplished in the past 25 years, Bruce said.
“It’s been fun to have created a kind of club for locals,” he said. “And we’ll be here as long as people want us.”
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