You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at any bar you want, but for as long as anyone around here can remember, the heart of Yakima’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is McGuire’s Irish Restaurant and Pub.
Sure, there are other places that serve green beer. And sure, there are other places with Jameson and Guinness. But there’s nowhere else that feels like an Irish pub (or even attempts to, really).
McGuire’s, which opened in 1980 and was sold to the family that now owns it in 1982, has cultivated that home-away-from-home aesthetic and feeling that Irish pubs are famous for. The walls are covered in kitschy trinkets and old signs and, most of all, collages of customer snapshots dating back decades. The dart room doubles as a memorial, where photos of regulars and friends who’ve died quietly watch over the games.
Dick Paddock, a regular who owned the now-closed Geppetto’s Italian Bistro in Yakima, said the atmosphere reminds him of the bar from NBC’s beloved sitcom “Cheers.”
“You very seldom find somebody like this young lady,” he said, pointing to owner Jeanne Dyke. “She gets people to where they warm up and take care of each other. It’s like family. ... You feel like you’re in the living room with friends.”
Dyke, whose grandson Rory Gangle runs the place day to day, took over after her husband, Stanley Dyke, died in 2007. About four years ago, Dyke, in her 80s, decided to step back. Her daughter, Robin Gangle, had planned to take over McGuire’s but she got sick and “Rory was the elected person,” Dyke said.
“I elected him,” Robin added, laughing.
He maintained the feeling of the place, calling it his grandmother’s legacy. And he plans to stay for the foreseeable future. But Dyke still comes in several times a week, mostly because she’d miss the customers if she didn’t.
“What makes it worth it has been meeting all of our wonderful customers,” Dyke said. “That’s something you can take with you forever and ever.”
That kind of history, the sense that the bar has been lived in over the past 40 years, is what makes it such a perfect setting for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day. The staff goes all in on the holiday, too. Head cook Omar Salgado whips up a special Irish menu including shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak, corned beef and cabbage, cabbage rolls, beef ‘n’ Guinness and other St. Patrick’s Day favorites. And Gangle and the bar staff plan to bust out some special Irish Whiskeys they’ve been squirreling away, as well as the standard green Budweiser, Guinness and Jameson.
The place only legally holds 88 people, and there’s likely to be a line throughout the night as people wait to get in. But once they’re inside, they’ll find the sort of party where strangers become family in a single night. They’ll also find what has become a beloved annual tradition: the crowning of the St. Patrick’s Day king and queen.
“My mom started the tradition and chose the first couple,” Robin Gangle said. “And then each couple selects the next king and queen.”
It’s about the highest honor a McGuire’s regular can achieve (short of having their picture hung in the memorial room, but that requires dying first), and it comes with a few responsibilities throughout the year — organizing the annual Christmas party, for instance. But it also has its perks. You get a nice ceremonial goblet, and people buy you drinks and, most importantly, you get to choose the next year’s royalty on St. Patrick’s Day.
And, yes, it is always on St. Patrick’s Day proper. This year it’s a Tuesday, but Dyke and her family never considered moving the celebration to the weekend. She sounded slightly shocked at the question.
“We’re Irish,” she said.