“I grew up in Saraland and have worked in food and beverage since I was a kid waiting tables and tending bars. I bought this bar on Dauphin Street 20 years ago. It was the week before Mardi Gras. We opened during Mardi Gras, then shut down for two weeks for renovations. On March 17, 2001 we officially opened as Pat’s Downtown.
The bar is named after my brother, Pat. He passed away 21 years ago. We always wanted to own a bar together, so I named it after him. He was 36 when he was killed by a drunk driver. You never get over that. His picture is over the bar and I feel he keeps an eye on me. He collected beer memorabilia from around the world. The 1500 beer cans on the wall are a small part of his collection of 15,000.
I had no clue what I was getting into when I opened Pat’s. That first day was stressful and happened so fast. I didn’t know if anyone was going to show up. The owner gave me the keys and said, ‘have fun.’ It was slow starting out. The time after Mardi Gras is traditionally down because beach season begins and everyone heads there. I learned to use the surplus from Mardi Gras to carry us through the summer. But we don’t know if we are going to have a surplus this year.
There have always been ups and downs. Some good years and slow years. We have come through hurricanes, the oil spill and now the pandemic. We have survived so far. Last year was the biggest Mardi Gras I have had in 20 years and things were turning around. The Coronavirus shutdown in March was a total shock. The service industry was hit with more restrictions than other businesses. We were at half capacity and we had to close before 11 p.m. Bars do 80 to 90 percent of our business after 10. p.m. That curfew lasted for another two months. I am hopeful things will start improving over the next few months, but we need some help from Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is not canceled, we just aren’t having parades and balls. The bars downtown are promoting ‘Bardi Gras.’ We think people are going to come out and celebrate and we are here to help them do that. Bardi Gras starts Friday night and goes through Fat Tuesday. A couple of organizations have rented the bar out. We are going to be at half capacity and have mini-Mardi Gras balls. People are dressing in gowns and tuxedos. We will cater and have music. The catering companies and tuxedo stores are losing huge amounts of businesses. The police officers and firemen who aren’t getting the overtime they normally get.
We usually don’t have Art Walk during Mardi Gras, but this year we do. We can make it a Mardi Gras Art Walk with another reason to celebrate downtown. Wear a tux or gown for that. This is Mobile’s celebration and we are finding new ways to keep it going. That is what Joe Cain and the ‘cowbellion’ parading with cowbells and rakes were about. That is what we need right now.
I leave the bar and go home to a farm where I can see the stars at night. It helps me keep my sanity. My happy place is on a lawn mower cutting 10 acres of grass. I planted peach and plum trees. I also raise bees and sell the honey. My father had bees when I was a kid. I have 25 hives and want to get up to 50 or more. Piercy Farms is the name of the honey. I sell honey, eggs and seasonal produce at markets. The honey supported me and sometimes the bar during the past year. I paid many of the bills with money from honey sales.
When we opened 20 years ago, I thought if I could stay open five years we would be doing well. I never thought I would be here 20 years. We are celebrating the anniversary in April. Maybe more people will be vaccinated and we can be a little more back to normal by then.
This is a tough business, but I stay in because of the people and my employees. I have met some of my best friends through Pat’s and we are family.”