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Farewell, James Joyce; Hello, Hail Mary

Irish pub in Avondale closes, reopens as sports bar this week.

The James Joyce Irish Pub in Avondale Estates served its last customers last weekend to make way for a new establishment, The Hail Mary. 

In a raucous, heartfelt and humorous tribute, a funeral was staged to honor the neighborhood bar that’s been a part of the city for nine years.

Festivities began Saturday about 9 p.m. as pall bearers solemnly marched in carrying a coffin painted in the colors of the Irish flag and bearing the “Joyce” logo.

Local artist Bart Webb and bartenders Chris Hodder and Peter Villanueva wanted to give Joyce customers and employees a creative way to have closure to make a fresh start with The Hail Mary. 

“It was a collaborative idea and effort," Webb said.  

Customers were encouraged to pay their last respects by writing down their favorite memories of the “Joyce” and placing them into the coffin. At the end of the evening, the casket was nailed shut and carried out. The remains will rest in Webb’s new studio.

“The people in here have become like family to me,” said Avondale resident and long-time customer Anita Sims. Pointing to a collection of shot glasses behind the bar, Sims said her late husband bought them during his travels and had given them to the Joyce.

Debbie Greenhalgh said she had moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta last spring.

“It’s the first place I started coming to," she said. "I am sad that it’s going away.”

The pub will re-open on Oct. 5 as The Hail Mary. The new concept will be modeled after a family-friendly sports bar, The Hail Mary in Grayson.  The menu will feature jumbo chicken wings, fresh-made burgers, award-winning chili and a children’s menu.

The Hail Mary Sports Pub in Grayson was recognized by Gwinnett
Magazine as The Best Sports Pub in Gwinnett in the magazine reader’s poll and will be honored as one of The Best of Gwinnett in an upcoming issue.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Friday Oct. 7 at
11 a.m. with the Board of Mayor and Commissioners.

 



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