Stout protest

Philadelphia bar owners oppose Guinness role in opening pubs

Mar 17, 2000 - The Associated Press reports the number of pubs in Philadelphia that are boycotting some products from the Guinness Import Co. is growing.


At least 10 bars, mostly Irish, have joined the protest of the company's involvement in starting new Irish theme bars around the country -- and in the Philadelphia area.

Most of the pubs have discontinued the sale of Bass and Harp, which Guinness also imports, but four have even taken the popular Guinness Stout off tap.

Some bars stopped selling Guinness products last year. Among those involved in the protest are the city's premier Irish bar, Plough and The Stars, which is not selling Bass, and the city's oldest bar, McGillin's Olde Ale House, which stopped selling Guinness, Bass and Harp.

"This is America. There's a lot of great beers here," McGillin's owner Chris Mullins said. "We're the oldest bar (since 1860) in Philadelphia and we did not have Guinness before I bought the bar in 1993. We survived a long time without Guinness and we can make it without them now."

The bar owners are upset with Guinness' commercial development division, and its relationship to the Irish Pub Co., which has built hundreds of Irish theme pubs around the world since 1991. The company put together its first pub in the United States in 1996 in Atlanta, Ga., and scores have followed.

Most import the physical components of the pub -- sometimes even the bar itself -- from Ireland, and cost up to $2 million to open. Some, such as the popular Fado pubs, are part of chains, while others operate independently. Their success has led other entrepreneurs to use firms other than the Irish Pub Co. to import Irish pub parts to the U.S. and open large pubs.

Guinness executives met with about 20 Philadelphia bar owners last month and plan another meeting in May.

"We made Guinness a part of our pub for 19 years and it almost felt like a partnership. Having been a great part of that success, we feel in a great part betrayed that they are partially responsible for helping other people go into business against us," said Mark O'Connor, an owner of the Irish Pub.

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