Paddys celebrates 25 years in Vail Valley
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado If you walk into Paddys Sports Bar & Grill in Eagle-Vail, owner Ralph Dockery says theres a good chance youll run into somebody you know. Its a neighborhood bar and grill. Weve got a lot of locals, Dockery, 61, said. If you come here at four oclock youll see the same 15 or 20 guys that have been here for 20 years.As Paddys celebrates 25 years thriving in the Vail Valley this month, Dockery, his staff and patrons think the neighborhood vibe is whats made the last quarter-century successful. Its part of the reason Dockery, whose been in the restaurant business for 35 years, bought the locale in 1993 from Pat McDonald, who built the bar and restaurant. Ive always lived in Eagle-Vail. This is where I used to hide out, Dockery said. Then I bought it.A lot has changed since bar doors first opened in 1983. It started as Paddy ODays Riverside Grill, then Paddy ODays and now, its best known simply as Paddys. Off-track betting was once an option where theres now a pizza area. The betting didnt last long, as longtime bartender Betsey Foley said, because you need a big city for that.And last year, Dockery remodeled the bar area to outfit a small stage for open mics and karaoke. The one constant in Paddys history has been the people sitting at the tables and resting their elbows on the bar. Were on our second and third generation of customers, Dockery said. Its neat. I get to know everybody a lot of them and they know me. Its kind of fun.Thats largely why McDonald keeps coming back to the place he constructed. The biggest reason I still come in is because I can see all the old guys that used to hang around, he said. For others, its the opposite. Eagle-Vail resident John Hoy comes to see some of his favorite bartenders, many whove worked there at least a decade. It kind of tells you a lot about an establishment when its employees have been here 15,16, 17 years, Hoy said.Its our customers, thats what keeps us here, said Foley, whose tended bar at Paddys for 17 years. I love my customers.Its a relationship that Foley said keeps everybody coming back. I dont have any plans on leaving, she said. Soon the future of Paddys will change again. Dockery has had the restaurant up for sale the last four months. He said hes getting out of the restaurant business to focus on a charity, Swift Eagle, he started with some friends a few years ago.Ive been doing this for 35 years. Its just time to move onto the next phase of my life, he said. But Hoy doesnt think much will change once Dockery leaves, and hell keep coming back. The bartenders wont change, just the name on the check, he said.Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.