“We’re out of draft beer, bitches!” Bartender Shay Parke yelled at 6:45 p.m. The crowd at the Old Post erupted in cheers. Every table and barstool was filled with students, Missoula citizens, veterans and trick-or-treaters on the last night of business of the 30-year-old downtown Missoula pub and restaurant.
The Old Post gave one day’s notice to customers and employees that they were closing last Thursday, Halloween night, due to financial problems.
Parke, a full-time employee for the past two years, chose to celebrate her last night on the job. Taking cash only, she poured drinks and stood on the bar declaring her love for certain regular customers, rap music playing overhead.
“We bring in families with good food and good drinks,” she said. “It was so unique and special.” Even Parke’s fluffy white dog, Doctor Lecter, roamed around the pub saying his goodbyes.
“I usually tie him in the back,” Parke said. “But tonight I was like, this is your home, too.”
Doctor Lecter meandered around a table of UM students who were reminiscing about their time spent at the downtown pub, which employed several students and often attracted Missoulians to outdoor patio concerts.
Ava Mazzoni, a senior studying management and information systems, turned 21 in March. She said the pub has been a staple in her college career.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a freshman, for breakfast and dinners,” Mazzoni said. “This is the first bar I ever blacked out at, on my 21 run.”
Journalism senior Alyssa Stokovich agreed. “This is the first bar I ever went to when I was 21,” she said. She often took friends and family to The Old Post when they visited her in Missoula.
“Every new person that’s come to town, this is the first place I bring them,” Stokovich said.
Samantha Fitzgerald, a psychology student, wished there had been more notice of the pub’s closure. “I would’ve loved to have one last meal,” she said. According to Parke, the pub ran out of food around noon on the last day.
The group of friends took photos posing by The Old Post’s menu board before leaving. “1/2 OFF NACHOS, CATFISH FINGERS & CHICKEN TENDERS,” was written in colorful chalk. The bartenders let the customers know they were sold out of champagne, tequila and vodka by 7:30 p.m.
Other students looked back on the Old Post with memories that had little to do with the food or drinks. The Old Post Pub is run by the American Legion “Forgotten Warriors” Post 101, a nonprofit, which means veterans like Jared Fisher attended meetings there.
“I’ve been a member for a few years,” he said. Fisher is majoring in parks, tourism, and recreation management at UM and served in the Army for 10 years.
“This is the first place I came for a meal. I think a lot of people just have a personal story about this place,” Fisher said.
In true Old Post fashion, even new customers casually stopped by the old-time, cozy bar on Thursday night.
Matt Quayle was just passing through town on the way to Seattle from Ohio. It was his first and last time at the Old Post.
“Apparently, I got the last draft beer,” he said, sitting at the bar. “It only filled up halfway, but it tasted good and it was free.” He put down $3 on the counter and left.
Around 8 p.m., as the last canned beers and ciders were sold, many gathered at the bar for shots of whatever was left on the shelf before the Old Post Pub closed its doors for good.
“Last call!” the bartenders yelled.