After about five years of bringing craft cocktails to downtown Rochester, The Doggery has gone dark.

Owner Ansley Jones and his crew of five served up their last drinks in the basement speakeasy-style bar Saturday night. By Monday, he was carrying out the equipment and eclectic furnishings at 18 Third Ave. SW.

While many loyal fans of the award-winning bar known for its unique and pricey drinks were voicing their sadness about the closure this weekend, Jones had a different feeling.

“It’s more a feeling of relief for me,” he said. “Running a bar like The Doggery is grueling. … It’s a lot of hard work.”

Jones, who long has been a popular Rochester bartender, opened The Doggery in September 2013. It was the first place to introduce high-end craft cocktails to Med City drinkers. However, competition has evolved in the past five years in that area.

He said the closure was “more of a personal decision than a business decision,” though he acknowledged revenues had been declining in the past couple of years.

Jones and all of The Doggery’s staff soon will start work at a St. Paul eatery called Revival, where they were hired for the summer.

“It will be nice to be a ‘civilian’ again,” he said.

That means no longer worrying about keeping his bar afloat.

Instead of attracting the hoped-for after-work happy hour crowd, The Doggery developed a following from young late-night drinkers on the weekends. That meant long nights for staff, who had little to do early in the evening.

The bar also was hurt by not having any food on the menu, he said.

“We were getting to the point where we were talking about being open only three days a week. But when you tell staff that, it gets hard to keep good talent,” Jones said.

He had been planning for a while to quietly close in May.

The bar’s lease with SEAR LLC ended in September. It had been operating on a month-to-month basis since then. SEAR is owned by John Pacchetti, Emily Botten and Scott Hoss.

Pacchetti had been negotiating with Jones to buy out The Doggery. That would have included the equipment, fixtures and a contract to employ Jones.

Those talks ended last week.

Rumors as well as a local media report cited some personal conflicts as factors in the closure.

It was implied that some of those conflicts might have involved Jones and Sarah Pacchetti, who owns the adjacent FireFly Barre and Fitness. The two businesses shared the basement space in the building. Pacchetti’s husband, John Pacchetti, is the landlord.

While both sides acknowledge some friction as between roommates of different temperaments, they agree the minor disputes were not the reason behind the closure.

“SEAR LLC has always admired Ansley and his craft. That has not changed,” wrote John Pacchetti in an email response to questions about the closure.

Now that The Doggery is done and is moving out, Pachetti and others are working on crafting a new business to fill that spot.

“There is nothing I can share with you about plans for the space at this time. … Ironically, the logo of the new business pays homage to The Doggery,” Pachetti wrote.

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Business Reporter

Jeff has worked at newspapers as a reporter, columnist, editor, photographer and copy editor since 1992. He started at the Post Bulletin in 1999. Kiger is the PB's business reporter and writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street."