GVSU students pour one out for their dear friend Mully's
Mully's Bar Crawl. The Tin Can. 1/12/19. Going away celebration for Mully's. GVL / Benjamin Hunt.
There are several bars and restaurants near Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus, but none quite live up to the reputation of Mully’s Bar and Grill. Located in Meadows Crossing Retail Shoppes with a head-on view of the Cook Carillon Tower, Mully’s was essentially GVSU’s "college bar." However, at the beginning of winter break Mully’s Bar and Grill closed its doors for good, with no notice to its employees and the community of students it primarily served.
“The way we were informed of the closure was honesty hurtful,” said Brittany D’Avignon, who had been serving at Mully’s since April. “We had some idea that it was coming, but we had no solid proof or words from our bosses. We were told two days after what would be our last day open. We were not told in person, but through text.”
A majority of Mully’s employees were GVSU students, who now had to start the new semester looking for new jobs. D’Avignon believes her fellow Mully’s employees will easily find new jobs, but will dearly miss the family that had formed at the bar.
“My former coworkers are people I will be friends with for life,” D’Avignon said. “As cheesy as it sounds, we are actually a family and we will continue to be close.”
This feeling of family was common among student patrons as well, who knew they could always find a familiar face at Mully’s. The bar was most popular on Thursday evenings and, at early points in the semester, it would be packed to the brim with students. Often resembling a large reunion, the likelihood of running into a friend was most fitting at Mully’s.
“Thursday’s were our biggest night of the week, and it was filled with students,” D’Avignon said. “I never really felt like I had to go into professional server mode because the bar was full of friends. It was a place where people could come and always have a good time, and there would always be a friendly face if you needed one.”
Over the years, Mully’s became the staple for students to gather and enjoy each other’s company, which is likely what made it stand out from the other bars in the area. Although, Mully’s popularity on Thursdays would often bring more than of-age students coming together, it even fostered in questionable bar customers: minors. Just since 2015, Mully’s has received over five violations for serving minors or intoxicated persons, as well as not keeping up with their licensing. Some of these violations even resulted in short closures of the bar, but it always seemed to bounce back.
This time, however, is much different, and the bar will not be making a comeback this time around. Mully’s Bar and Grill did not respond to comment.
The bar’s closure caught many patrons off guard and inspired its staff to host a farewell. On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Mully’s Bar and Grill Funeral was held in downtown Grand Rapids. A bar crawl beginning at Joey’s Tavern was followed by Z’s Bar, the Tin Can and finally rounded out the night at the Tavern on the Square.
“The funeral is our ode to Mully’s and all the good times and friendships formed there,” D’Avignon said. “It deserves a funeral because it was a great place no matter what downfalls it might have had. It was where we made some of our best friends and had some of the best times in college.”
A small mob of students dressed in black and covered in "Mully’s" stamps slowly made their way from bar to bar, swapping stories of their fallen friend. Some were previous Mully’s employees, others were just regulars and friends coming together one last time to say goodbye to years of memories. Luckily, Mully’s prime location in the Meadows Crossing Retail Shoppes will not be needing the same solemn farewell.
“(We are) in the process of leasing the space to an entity that is looking to acquire a liquor license,” said Glenn Turek, operating manager for the Retail Shoppes.
Mully’s reputation will live on in the memories and stories from its staff and student patrons who claimed it as GVSU’s college bar. This new bar and restaurant will hopefully take on the title, and be able to match up to its predecessor.
“Everything looks good so far,” Turek said. “We are hoping we will be seeing them in operation sometime between now and the end of March.”
The Mully’s Bar and Grill Funeral was the final goodbye to the establishment, whose owners never gave its community the final night it deserved. As the new semester gets underway and the new bar prepares to take on the college bar title, the funeral was not only a nod to the past, but a chance to turn the bar’s closure into a happy ending after all.
“We think Mully’s deserves a proper sendoff since we weren’t able to know we had one last night there,” D’Avignon said. “We need the funeral because we, and a lot of other people that came to Mully’s, would have liked to have known that it was closing. We deserved a warning and a last night all together.”