Before COVID-19 health restrictions claimed his favorite downtown Durango hangout, the Irish Embassy Pub, Sean McCarthy decided to act – organizing a social media fundraising effort to save the place where he plays the bodhrán, an Irish drum, during the Sunday jam sessions.
“I don’t want to see another staple of Main Avenue disappear. You know. It’s been a sad week with The Palace going away,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy has created a Facebook page, Save the Irish Embassy, where donations can be made through PayPal and Venmo. So far, $2,300 of the $50,000 goal has been raised.
McCarthy said he’s set up an account at Alpine Bank where donations can be made to the Save the Irish Pub account.
The biggest question McCarthy is getting is: What happens if the $50,000 goal is not raised?
He said he’s tried to make the process transparent, establishing the bank account with Sarah Donaldson, the pub’s majority owner. Donations immediately go to the Irish Embassy to cover operating expenses.
But he admits donations are a risk. There’s no guarantee the $50,000 will be raised, and even then, there’s no guarantee the money would tide things over beyond winter. But McCarthy said all donations are being immediately conveyed to the Irish Embassy to keep the pub afloat.
Donaldson said the money mainly goes to pay rent, and he said if the $50,000 is raised, that should keep the pub open through winter. The pub typically employs about 30 people with a few more on staff during Christmas season, she said.
The shoulder season, especially November, one of downtown Durango’s slowest months for restaurants, is a particular concern.
“In winter, keeping a kind of flow can be a challenge. November, that’s kind of our shoulder season, and we don’t really know what to expect this November,” Donaldson said.
Even Christmas might not be its typical strong month this year, she said, with many businesses opting to cancel Christmas parties.
“It’s stressful. We don’t know really what to expect, and November is tough even in the best of situations,” she said.
While the fundraiser so far has been online, the core group of Irish music fans who jam at the pub are working on organizing some old-fashioned in-person events, McCarthy said.