Fulton’s Gate owner James Gilroy announced on a Saturday that his Patchogue Irish pub was shutting down.
By the next day, his regulars and others were streaming in, some even crying.
Gilroy had reached a deal to sell the restaurant.
“This is bittersweet,” he told GreaterPatchogue.com. “But a lot of people are losing their life’s savings right now [due to COVID-19 and dining restrictions], especially in New York City, but in the city, no one is coming in to save them.”
He and his wife, Kerry, who live in Bayport, consider themselves lucky to have sold.
“It’s a little bittersweet for her too,” he said.
Gilroy opened Fulton’s Gate in the former Old Olive Tree space on East Main Street in mid-November 2014.
Although locals were markedly sad about the Greek restaurant leaving, they quickly warmed up to Gilroy and his gift of gab, and the old-time Irish bar and fare, even Irish breakfast.
Now another transition is in the works.
“The guys coming in are professionals,” Gilroy said. “They’ve got a lot of energy. Between Public House reopening, these guys coming in fresh, The Cliffton facelift [and more plans down the street], this’ll make East Main Street the hub I had always thought it would turn into.”
[Check back for updates from the new owners, who have a different concept planned.]
The pandemic cast a shadow over Fulton’s Gate’s final year in business. Yet Gilroy says he was deeply inspired by the work of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce’s restaurant committee, which, along with GreaterPatchogue.com [no relation], quickly mobilized to raise money to help feed hospital workers and needy families during the lockdowns.
The mobilization, which yielded well over $30,000, also helped the restaurants stay afloat.
“Literally, one text message to the group and within the hour we were accomplishing a goal. It was pretty astounding. What this restaurant committee does is something to emulate nationwide,” he said.
He also tipped his hat to chamber leaders, village officials and the Business Improvement District.
But his fondest memory came four months after opening.
It was St. Patrick’s Day.
“It was our first busiest day,” he recalled. “The staff had only been working together for three full months and they hit that night with absolutely no mistakes, and I felt like, ‘Alright, I did it.’ I got open in time. I trained them in time. And it was on me to get that done.”
If you know him, you know Gilroy always has time for a joke:
“It was all downhill from there,” he laughed.
Photo: James Gilroy outside Fulton’s Gate on Sept. 25. (Credit: Nick Esposito)