When Bruce Corrigan and his wife Debra opened O’Shucks on Main Street in Park City, “I Swear” by All-4-One, Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” and “The Sign” by Ace of Base were playing on the radio. Pulp Fiction, Dumb & Dumber and Forest Gump were in the theaters. Bill Clinton was president, and we hadn’t yet heard the name Monica Lewinsky. The year was 1994.
Bruce Corrigan has seen a lot of changes to the bar biz in Utah over nearly three decades since opening O’Shucks, not the least of which was the disappearance of private clubs and the memberships needed to enter them. Perhaps surprisingly, there are things the O’Shucks owner misses about the clubs.
“Although we had to share the membership money people paid to drink at a private club, those membership fees were a steady and reliable source of revenue for club owners,” says Corrigan. “And the memberships created a loyal customer base, since most people were only going to buy a membership or two. So they’d come back and drink at your place over and over. Tourists would buy a membership at O’Shucks or the Alamo or wherever and come back day after day.”
When O’Shucks opened it was essentially a tavern selling beer, which didn’t require memberships and a private club license. And by the way, Corrigan proudly uses the word “dive” to describe his beloved Main Street O’Shucks.
A while back he told me that the idea when O’Shucks opened was “to super-serve the locals. Everybody else was dropping white tablecloths, so we took the exact opposite tack―we figured we’d take care of all the Park City ‘hourlies’ ― the ski instructors, lifties, sprinkler installers … you know … we figured no one was really taking care of them, so we rolled out the red carpet for those guys. Our business model was that if we took care of the locals, it wouldn’t really matter if the tourists found us.” The tourists, however, did find O’Shucks, and today it’s one of Park City’s most popular bars for both tourists and locals alike.
The cost of doing business has gone through the roof since 1994. Corrigan still hosts Locals Night at O’Shucks on Tuesday nights when customers can get a 3-buck schooner of beer and a 3-buck burger. “When we started doing that, hamburger was 89 cents a pound, now it’s $3.99,” he says. “When we began doing the $3 schooners, a keg of beer was $28.50―now it’s $105. Keeping prices low and things like Locals Night going creates loyal customers, however. We have people who were regulars coming to O’Shucks in the nineties whose kids are now working for us here.”
And multiple generations of O’Shucks customers flock to Bruce and Debra’s newer Pinebrook location, which is family-friendly and definitely not a dive.
I’ve never talked to Bruce when he hasn’t commented on the gratitude he feels for the support of the community and his customers, who have stuck with O’Shucks from day one, and even through a pandemic. Until March of 2020, when the Health Department shut everyone down, O’Shucks had never been closed for even a single day.
“But people have just been wonderful to us and to our staff. They really took care of us,” says Corrigan, speaking about how the pandemic brought out the worst in some people, but the best in most of them. “The vast majority of people have been nothing but cool,” he says, smiling.
O’Shucks Bar & Grill is located at 427 Main Street in Park City and 22 E 100 S in Salt Lake City.
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