Pub owners excited about upcoming opening in downtown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Vince &uot;Boo&uot; McGhee and Mike Williams have seen it happen before.

In the 13 years since the two opened their downtown Portsmouth eatery, Baron’s Pub, they have watched that city’s struggling downtown evolve into a quaint, yet bustling business district.


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McGhee and Williams, who are expanding their restaurant into Suffolk, say this city is about to embark on a similar downtown renaissance.

&uot;This was downtown Portsmouth 10 or 15 years ago,&uot; said McGhee, standing outside the boarded-up doors that will become the entrance to Baron’s Pub early this summer. &uot;We’re hoping we are getting in on the ground floor.&uot;

Baron’s Pub will be opening at 185 N. Main St., where the Economy Shoppe was located for decades. McGhee and Williams are sinking more than $200,000 into renovations to turn the building into an 80-seat eatery, with a 30-foot bar and an area for performers.

The two friends expect to feature live entertainment several nights a week. The entertainment menu will include modern rock, blues and music from the 1980s and 1990s.

&uot;It’s going to be a nice, cozy place,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We want people to feel like they are hanging out at a friend’s house.&uot;

No doubt the city’s focus on developing Suffolk – particularly the historic downtown area – as a tourist destination will draw additional customers to Baron’s and other restaurants.

But just as it has in Portsmouth, Baron’s Pub will be catering to the hometown crowd.

&uot;We really want this to be a local’s place,&uot; said McGhee. &uot;We envision this being somewhere people come to two or three times a week, …for lunch or a beer after work.

&uot;We’ll be open every day, even when the city hall and the courts building are closed,&uot; he continued. &uot;Customers are welcome to come in and stay as long as they like.

&uot;In Portsmouth, our regulars are like family.&uot;

The Baron’s staff in Portsmouth knows most customers by name. The wait staff comes to know the regulars’ favorite brands of beer or which customer will want extra sour cream with his potato skins.

&uot;We are going to duplicate our success in Portsmouth here,&uot; said McGhee.