“I opened Haley’s Bar in December 19, 1991, 28 years ago. I grew up in Mobile and went to college here then moved to New York City to work in advertising. I hated my job, worked all of the time, and had no money. One of my clients was a jazz club on Bleecker Street. There were cool women from different places who worked there. I quit my job and started bartending at the club. The first weekend they threw me to the wolves but I made as much money that weekend as I did the whole week at my job. I worked at a couple of other bars around the city and fell in love with a bar with a jukebox, cheap beer and shots, and everyone was welcome. I thought of the places I could do that and there were no bars like it in Mobile. I knew enough people to keep a bar open the first year, so I came back home. My friend and boyfriend at the time helped me build the bar and open it. I was 25 years old.
Everyone thought I was crazy for opening a bar in downtown Mobile. We have been here for 28 years
The building was a fried chicken restaurant. They started serving beer and wine and tried to get away from food. I bought the business and opened Hayley’s for very little money. A lot of the buildings around here weren’t occupied and the retail was old and odd. Everyone thought I was crazy for opening a bar in downtown Mobile and they said this was the worst location. No one thought we would make it. I thought Cathedral Square had so much potential and dreamed that my block would fill in one day. We were by ourselves for several years until Big Kahunas and Picklefish opened. Later it was wow, there are six new places opening on this block in one year. The people on this block love Mobile and want the best for it. They changed Mobile.
I was quite spunky at 25 and not afraid of saying what I wanted and how I wanted it. People who work here tend to come in groups and stay for a long time. I am on my fourth set of bartenders. They become family and we did a lot together in the younger years. It is amazing to sit here 29 years later and realize where where we came from and that we are still here. I had great people who helped me and who came through these doors. Delane Bond came on as a manager and became my right hand. After a few years, she became my partner and I couldn’t do this without her. Hayley’s anniversary parties are quite the memories. It is time to start planning the 30th. I love to do special events and charity events.
I love this bar. I don’t have children. When I look at Hayley’s, I think this is what I have. I still love my job every day. In the beginning, I had other businesses besides Hayley’s. If I could do it over again, I would go back and give complete attention to Hayley’s. When I give it my full attention, it is better for me and the bar.
There is no other place like Mobile and it still has so much potential. I wish we could get the people who live here to appreciate what Mobile could stand for and let it change a little. When I opened Hayley’s I thought in 20 years Mobile will outgrow some of the old ways of thinking but we aren’t there yet. We can still change and get better, just look at what happened to downtown.”