ROCK HILL, S.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - A staple in downtown Rock Hill will close its doors for good.
McHale’s Irish Pub, the friendly bar and kitchen that once served as one of the only nightlife options on Main Street in Rock Hill, announced via Facebook post on Friday that it’ll close for good this weekend. The bar was to host farewell parties on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., one post said.
The Herald confirmed the news with a McHale’s employee.
“LET’S GO OUT WITH A BOOM!!” one post reads. “Come close down McHale’s with us!! Doors close for good on Saturday night!! ... We will miss you all!!”
McHale’s on Main opened in 2004 in an event that Rock Hill leaders heralded as important for the downtown redevelopment along Main Street.
The restaurant and bar owned by Brendan Kuhlkin became the focal point for the downtown’s music and night scene, hosting bands and events for years. It was often a spot where Rock Hill sports fans watched games and tournaments, including World Cup soccer and Winthrop’s NCAA Tournament run in 2007 when the Eagles defeated Notre Dame.
In 2015, McHale’s had a national audience when it hosted NBC News broadcasts when the Democratic candidates for president held a debate nearby at Winthrop University.
The Main Street site was the second McHale’s in York County. A location along Gold Hill Road near the entrance to Tega Cay operated from 1997 until closing in 2014, when the 17-acre site was sold for development.
McHale’s served craft beers on tap and several food options, including its locally renowned wood-fired pizza. Kuhlkin also owns Rock Hill Brewery Co. and Millstone Pizza & Taphouse.
ROCK HILL, YORK COUNTY LEADERS REACT TO MCHALE’S CLOSING
Rob Youngblood, president of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce, said McHale’s delivered for years on its mission of being a downtown destination. McHale’s drew people not just from Rock Hill’s downtown, but from other parts of York County and the region, Youngblood said.
Additionally, the restaurant was a proud corporate and civic citizen for the city and its people, Youngblood said.
“McHale’s had a great run for years,” Youngblood said. “The place always had a cool vibe. The closing of McHale’s downtown is unfortunate.”
Rock Hill city council member Nikita Jackson said McHale’s was a vital and important part of downtown’s development and resurgence. Jackson’s first watch party as a political candidate for council in 2013 was at McHale’s.
McHale’s for many years was a venue for the city’s Blues and Jazz festival, Jackson said.
“To hear McHale’s is closing, after 16 years, is going to be a missing link in our tight-knit downtown business family,” Jackson said. “With all of the projected growth for our downtown area, this is going to be one less business for people to patronize, and McHale’s will be truly missed.”
Joel Hamilton, York County councilman, praised McHale’s for investing in downtown Rock Hill and York County. McHale’s helped reshape downtown into a destination for young people and also inspired other businesses to seek out downtown as a place to flourish, Hamilton said.
“McHale’s has been a downtown fixture for years — I was a student at Winthrop when they opened,” Hamilton said. “At the time there was not much downtown. They were truly pioneers on Main Street and have contributed to the revitalization of Old Town and became a Rock Hill institution. It’s sad to see them shut their doors for good. We will always be grateful for the investment in our community.”
Billy Dunlap, CEO of destination marketing organization Visit York County, said McHale’s was a longtime fixture in downtown Rock Hill, back before the area turned into the emerging destination that it is today.
“They’ve really been a staple in downtown Rock Hill,” Dunlap said.