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Patrick's Pub on the market as pandemic staffing challenges mount

Micah Powell in Patrick's kitchen

Patrick’s Pub owner Micah Powell prepares St. Patrick's Day takeout meals of corned beef and cabbage in the kitchen of the restaurant in March 2020.

PITTSFIELD — One of downtown Pittsfield’s longest running and most popular restaurants is currently for sale.

The owners of Patrick’s Pub, brothers David and Micah Powell, and their father, Bruce, have placed on the market the popular eatery on 26 Bank Row that they have been involved in the ownership of for 20 years. The restaurant, which has been in operation since 1985, is currently listed at $289,000 by Stone House Properties. The listing agents are Rich Aldrich and Tony Blair.

Patrick’s will remain open while the restaurant is for sale, said Shana Powell, Patrick’s business manager and Micah Powell’s wife.

Patrick’s Pub for sale

The owners of Patrick's Pub, one of downtown Pittsfield's longest running restaurants, have decided to sell the popular eatery on Bank Row.

On Monday, Shana said a “lot of factors” went into the Powells’ decision to place the pub on the market, and that those reasons were probably accelerated by the events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had decided in the past couple of years what we were going to do eventually,” she said. “My husband and I have three kids and I have another business as well. The long hours and the commitment is an awful lot and basically I would say the pandemic sped up our timeline a little bit.

“We just decided that now’s the time to have someone else take over, someone who’s a little more fresher with more energy to put into rebuilding, as you have to rebuild, from the pandemic,” she said.

Like many other local restaurants, Patrick’s struggled in 2020 during the worst of the pandemic. In April 2021, Powell told The Eagle that Patrick’s revenue had declined by 50 percent over the previous 12 months.

In November, an increase in local COVID cases caused Patrick’s to halt in-person dining for 48 hours. Patrick’s also had to close briefly in December to conduct a “deep cleaning” of the restaurant after an employee who worked in a nonpublic position tested positive for COVID.

David and Micah Powell became the minority owners of Patrick’s in 2002, and majority owners in 2008, when they purchased the remainder of the business from then-majority owner Peter Lepotakis.

The Powells’ officially announced their decision Friday on the pub’s Facebook page, and as of Monday that post had generated 108 comments, including one from Lepotakis.

“I have never seen things as hard on business owners as the last two years,” wrote Lepotakis, who opened Electra’s Cafe in Lenox in 2012. “When I sold the remaining stock to you guys in 2008, I knew you would succeed. But you did something wonderful. You took something that was already good and made it better. That is something to be proud of.”

Many patrons also chimed in to thank the Powells and wish them success in the future.

“Wow, this genuinely made me tear up,” wrote Averie Crocker. “I’ve had a lot of firsts here. Overall real good memories. Thank you everyone along the wonderful journey for creating an amazing experience and food.”

In their Facebook post, the Powells described their decision to sell Patrick’s as “certainly an emotional one” and thanked their patrons for their continued support.

“Walking away from something that you put your heart and soul into for 20 years is never easy,” the post read. “You can look at the posts on Facebook. It is overwhelming to read that to really understand that the community was also invested in our business and liked what we did. It’s just emotional, it really is.”

“I’m not interested in any sort of pity party kind of an outlook,” Shana Powell said.

“I will say that (sales) were down as we mentioned earlier in the spring, but we were also in a position where there was such limited staffing that we could not deliver (food) any more like we were doing, (and) we can’t open extra hours or extra days,” she said. “We were very limited in building back up our sales to pre-pandemic (levels) because we just don’t have enough staff to handle that.”

Staffing issues coming out of the pandemic have been an issue for several Berkshire businesses, and restaurants are no exception.

“I can’t speak to other restaurants, but I can say that getting kitchen staff has always, always been a challenge,” she said. ”Getting front of the house staff has never been a challenge for us. But when the pandemic hit what happened was that some of our people that were full-time had to leave and go somewhere else in order to make enough money.”

Since the pandemic struck, the number of cooks at Patrick’s had dropped from eight or nine to four of five, while the number of servers on Saturday nights had fallen from six to two.

“So what we have found with our staff is that with the exception of a couple of people, it’s all people who work one shift a week because they have other jobs,” she said. “So you can’t run a full-time operation with people who work one shift a week.”

Patrick’s Pub originally opened in February 1985 after then owner/manager Dan Keegan spent $75,000 on a 3 1/2 month project to renovate what had previously been a dress shop. The space had been vacant for two years before Keegan, a veteran of the Berkshire bar and restaurant industry, leased the space in October 1984. Keegan told The Eagle in 1985 that he named the restaurant Patrick’s Pub because that was the name of one of the best Irish pubs in New York City.

In 2004, the Powells spent an additional $125,000 on extensive renovations to Patrick’s that included the creation of an L shaped bar. Five years later, the brothers created a bigger room in the pub for private functions, and in 2012 received permission from the city to provide outdoor dining.

In 2012, the Powells also opened a second restaurant, J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, on North Street near the Beacon Cinema. J. Allen’s closed in October 2019, but Shana Powell said the closure of that eatery is unrelated to the decision to sell Patrick’s Pub.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.

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