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RIP, James Joyce: Irish pub in Harbor East shuts down for good

The Harbor East pub (pictured in 2010), named in honor of the classic Irish author, opened in 2002.
The Harbor East pub (pictured in 2010), named in honor of the classic Irish author, opened in 2002.

The James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant in Harbor East has shut down for good amid the pandemic, a spokeswoman for the Harbor East Management Group confirmed.

The pub’s owner, Washington-area restaurateur James Fagan, could not be reached for comment.

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The pub, named in honor of the classic Irish author, opened in 2002 at 616 President St. June 16 is Bloomsday, or the day of Leopold Bloom’s life that is captured in Joyce’s “Ulysses.” It’s now celebrated annually in Dublin with pub crawls and marathon readings of his work. (Fun fact: It’s also the date of Joyce’s first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.)

The restaurant’s menu featured items like, “Joyce Pizza,” “Joyce Ice Cream” and “Molly Bloom’s Chicken,” and the interior was imported from Ireland.

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Soon after the pub opened, The Baltimore Sun’s Alec MacGillis surmised that “Asked if they’ve read James Joyce, Baltimore’s bar-hoppers can now answer, ‘No, but I’ve been there for Happy Hour.’”

The closure comes during a pandemic that has shuttered dozens of local bars and restaurants, which have faced intermittent closures and severe limits on their operations as leaders look to stop the spread of COVID-19. In Baltimore, bars that don’t serve food have been ordered to shut down completely.

Experts say around 40% of all restaurants could shut down because of the virus.

In a statement, Habor East Management Group said that a new tenant for the James Joyce space would be announced “when the time is right,” and said they would release the name of a new restaurant elsewhere in the neighborhood in coming days.

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