Literally, it is down on Main Street past the Eckhart House and Uncle Pete’s and Happy Goat Yoga and the Wilson Playground, and the legendary tavern has re-opened after a brief closure with new ownership in place and a fresh future in sight.
Pat’s Down on Main Street is now owned and operated by Patrick Sheridan Carney, a North Wheeling native who still resides in close proximity to the establishment. Since the acquisition, Carney has made renovations to the interior and exterior, including the construction of a new room to house the four limited video lottery machines. He’s added an Irish theme in honor of his grandfather, who, at the age of 9 years old, was dropped off in New York City by his parents and was left to survive in the land of the free.
“Somehow, and he never rally explained it to me, he made his way to Wheeling, W.Va.,” said Carney, a 1992 graduate of Wheeling Park High School and a veteran of the United States Army. “So, I wanted to do this in part for him, and in honor of my heritage. Plus, I grew up in this place, and when it closed, I wanted to bring it back for the neighborhood and for all of the musicians who have played here through the years.
“This building pre-dates 1865, and there always has been a business on the bottom level. There were two additions made 17 years ago, so it’s a lot wider now than it was originally,” he explained. “My brothers, Ray and Dickie, bought the bar 24 years ago, and they were 50-50 partners. But then Ray decided he wanted to get out of it after seven years, and he sold his half to Dickie, but then Dickie became ill and couldn’t keep up with the business, and he had to close it. That’s when I decided that Down on Main Street needed to re-open, so I got involved.”
Rosie’s Bar was the name of the place before it became Down on Main Street, and before that it was known as the Snack Shack, a small eatery that served those beloved greasy fries.
“There is a lot of heritage here, and I have found out that a lot of people still remember the places that were here before it became Down on Main Street back in 1993,” Carney said. “We were able to open about three weeks ago although I did not plan to open until after the first of July because all of the names that have to change with the state agencies involved.
“But we are working through that process now, and so far all of the improvements that have been made to the inside and outside have been received very, very well. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been worth it,” he said. “I’ve tried to make it look as new as possible, and it is pretty shiny in here, I must say.”
Carney’s path to owning a small business is a storied one. Following his service to the country, he began attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1998 in an effort to earn a graphics arts degree. Despite working as a security guard at a four-star hotel and as a parking attendant at one of the many garages in Pittsburgh’s downtown district, Carney found that school proved to be too expensive.
Once he returned to his hometown, he gained employment with Sledd Co. and remained there for eight years until accepting a position with the local newspapers as a copy editor and columnist. After he was laid off there, he started a NASCAR themed radio program on the Watchdog Network in Wheeling and gained a position with the Wheeling Water Department.
Two things took place, though, that changed his course. Not only did he have a son, but he also suffered two fractured feet and ended up in a wheelchair and then on crutches for seven months. The coal mines called then, and for three years he worked underground until the industry’s slowdown occurred, forcing a layoff.
Then it was to Williams Lea, a global information distribution company that employs hundreds in downtown Wheeling, but when the chance to re-open Down on Main Street arrived, he jumped and has since performed a range of upgrades including painting, installing new lighting, tinting all windows, adding new furniture for the patio area, and revamping both public restrooms.
In the middle of his 14-hour days, though, the coal mine called and left a message. Carney erased it.
“I want this to be my future, and I can tell you that the one lesson I have learned during the first three weeks is owning a small business is all about sacrifice,” he admitted. “I got started with all of the improvement projects about 50 days ago, and that’s not left much time to spend time with my family and my friends, but I have made the commitment for this venture to be successful, and I figure I will have plenty of time to relax once I know this place is back on its feet.
“I know that every small business owner does nothing but work and work some more in the beginning, and that’s because that is what is necessary for the dream to come true,” he said. “If you don’t do that, I believe you’re setting yourself up for failure, and I do not plan to fail.”
One reason he’s optimistic about the years to come is the live and local music scene that now exists in the Wheeling area, and one reason why that culture has survived the last two decades is the opportunities made available by this North Wheeling establishment.
Pat’s Down on Main Street will open daily at 1 p.m. except for Mondays at this time of the year. The menu now offers DiCarlo’s pizzas and DOM Dogs (a loaded hot dog), but the food offerings will expand in the near future.
“I fully intend for all of the live music to continue playing here at Down on Main Street, and people may not realize it, but I played here on jam nights, too,” Carney said. “That’s what this place is known for, and it will always be known for that as long as it is in my hands. There are so many musicians in this area who played here first before they played anywhere else for the public, and that’s going to remain.
“That’s why our Jam Night will remain on Thursday nights like it’s always been, and we’ll have a Bike Night on Tuesday nights, Karaoke with Kaz on Wednesdays, live bands on Friday nights, and there will entertainment on Saturday nights, too, but we are scheduling those performers on a weekly basis depending on who is available. Hey, if our crowd wants a magician to come in, we’ll have a magician,” he said. “This has been quite the learning experience, and I fully expect the learning to continue because this is the first time I’ve owned my own business.”
(Photos by Steve Novotney)