Fans of the Nob Hill institution (3211 Central NE) will be sad to learn that O'Niell's has lost their lease. That's right, after 10 years as the neighborhood's most reliably unpretentious bar, the building's owner has decided not to renew what had been a 10-year lease. According to manager Jennifer Smith, O'Niell's is devastated by the news. "It was very much a surprise," she said. "Everyone is quite shocked. The employees just found out last week. ... A lot of the bartenders and kitchen staff have worked here for 10 years." Though the wall colors have notably changed several times, most everything else at O'Niell's has had reassuring consistency. "It's been a formula nobody wanted to mess with," Smith said. "It's been a profitable business for us and we really wanted to stay.
The restaurant/bar community is a twitter at the news and a lot of readers have written in lamenting the situation. Some of the pub's regulars appear to be inconsolabe—at least one of them doesn't intend to give up his favorite watering hole without a fight. O'Niell's regular Jesse Bock is circulating an e-mail hoping to drum up enough support to save the pub. The message reads in part, "The Pub is of course so much more than the maple paneling and the ever changing paint schemes. It is where the everyman can go to have an honest drink or a good meal or both. The pub is a refuge from the college bars with their sticky floors, earsplitting sound tracks, and 19-year-old drunks. ... The Pub is where we go to have the best burger in town, the weirdest sandwich, the tastiest adult beverage, and to be treated well." Bock also praises the pub for its support of local artists, sponsorship of softball and rugby teams and what he describes as "the world's finest bag pipe and drum corp".
Bock hopes to forward letters of support to the landlord, Signe Lindell. According to Smith, Lindell chose not to renew the lease in order to pursue another project in the space. Smith didn't have details about what that project might be and declined to release Lindell's phone number. I was unable to track her down for comment.
In the meantime, owner Rob O'Niell is eagerly looking for another location in Nob Hill or another part of town. If he's unsuccessful, the Nob Hill O'Niell's will close at the end of the year. The Uptown location (6601 Uptown NE) will remain open. You'd better get your fill of burgers and beers now, folks.