That block of Main Street in Archbald wasn’t much to look at back in 1984, when Gene and Shirley Barrett got the urge chuck their 9-to-5 jobs and start over.
Gene was a steel worker; Shirley worked in an office. That block had several abandoned buildings, and a run-down bar that was for sale.
“It was scary,” Shirley remembered. “We were working two normal jobs and this was a big risk. But my husband got it in his head that he wanted to open a pub. One day he just quit.”
They bought the place and spent several months renovating. Thirty-two years ago this month, Barrett’s Pub opened its doors.
“There were not many bars or restaurants in town at that point,” she said. “We wanted to make it a family-type place, a place where you can meet friends, have a conversation, bring your kids.”
One thing they had to deal with immediately was the lack of parking.
“There was an old abandoned movie theater a couple of doors down. We bought it and tore it down and now we had a parking lot.
Barrett’s slowly became the kind of community meeting place Gene and Shirley had envisioned and they began
“It got bigger and bigger,” she said. “Within seven years we had added a full dining room.”
While mostly they served friends and neighbors, occasionally a celebrity or two appeared at their door.
“There was the time Mike Tyson walked in for lunch with Joe Munley,” she recalled. “We weren’t sure at first, but we kept saying ‘I swear that looks like Mike Tyson.’ And it was.”
She also recalled when, in 2006, Chris Carney was running for Congress and held a rally at Barrett’s that was attended by then-Sen. Joe Biden.
“When he spoke, you could hear a pin drop,” she said.
But after more than three decades of mixing drinks and serving up food, the Barrett’s recently began to think that there might be another chapter to write.
“Thirty-three years is enough,” she said. “We wanted to retire.”
Shirley is looking to focus her energies on her duties as Mayor of Archbald Borough, as well as her charity work.
In January, they sold the business to a longtime waitress/bartender Donna DiPenice.
Donna has worked there for 28 years,” Shirley explained. “She knows what people are looking for. She’s very friendly and loves what she does. She’s going to be great.”