Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Last call: McMurphy's, Aquarius close down with one last party

Rochester's largest and most popular night spots ended a 30-year run this weekend not with a bang, but with a party.

Murphy's Sports Cafe and the Aquarius Club had their last calls Saturday as the two venues became part of the city's history to set the stage for the next act to open in the space than host up to 1,000 people at once.

While the future begins today with remodeling, the weekend was all about the past. The mood felt like a family reunion with cameras flashing, lots of hugs and most conversations starting with "Remember when …?"

"I've had a lot of good times here," said Matt Bjergum as he sat at the McMurphy's bar with friends.

For 15 years, he, along with crowds of other Rochester people, spent many St. Patrick's Days and New Year's Eves at McMurphy's, as well as many nights watching sports.


Jay Walker, who rallied Viking fans at McMurphy's for years during televised games, says the secret to success was because it was like Cheers.

"It is locally-owned with a type of Cheers-like atmosphere. It is a cliché, but everyone here really does know your name," said Walker.

"It has been a good run," said Tom Murphy as he sat in his office on what he calculated as his 1,546th Saturday night — his last one — at McMurphy's and the Aquarius Club. "I have been very fortunate."

Murphy, who opened his first Rochester bar in 1975, when he was 23, built and opened Dooley's Lounge and Grill on the site at 12th Street and Marion Road Southeast with his partner Mick Kane in 1980.

In 1990, it was recreated into McMurphy's. That was also when Aquarius Club opened with space for 700 people to dance to trendy club music amid artificial smoke and flashing lasers overhead.

Aquarius became "the" place to be on the weekends. While the large club format is no longer as a popular as it was in the 80s and 90s, the club's fans were paying cover charges of $15 and later $25 for a last dance or two Saturday night.

On its final night, several squad cars and uniformed officers were in the parking lot as the crowds walked and sometimes stumbled out of the doors at 2 a.m. Other than a couple short-lived scuffles, the only major problem in the lot was congestion from so many cars, taxi cabs, a party bus from Pine Island and a stretch SUV limo trying to leave at the same time.

For his part, the closing for Murphy was bittersweet with crowds of friends, regulars and former staff all telling him what McMurphy's and Aquarius meant to them over the years.


"I have thousands of great memories out here at this place," said Rochester City Council member Ed Hruska in the bustling McMurphy's. "It was a great place. I hate to see it go."

What To Read Next
Get Local