After 33 and a half years of owning Dunbar’s, Eddy Street’s watering hole, Dave Peppin is putting the bar up for sale.
“I’ve been there a long time. I’ve seen enough,” Peppin said.
Peppin said he will remain the owner of Dunbar’s for at least the remainder of the spring semester. He added that he hopes the bar will not shut down when he departs.
The decision to sell the late-night dive bar — spurred in part by a desire to spend more time with his family — comes with a “lot of mixed feelings,” Peppin said.
“We had the Stanley Cup in there twice. I don’t think any other bar could say that. Those nights — and drinking out of the cup — have got to be the highlight of my 33 years there,” Peppin said.
Such memories will not make selling the bar, a Collegetown fixture that has seen hundreds of Cornellians pass through its doors, easy, Peppin said.
With several bars — including The Royal Palm Tavern, Dinos and Johnny O’s — having shut their doors in the last few years, Dunbar’s is “really the only hangout bar left” in Collegetown, Peppin said.
The bar’s trademark graffitied walls, scribbled-on ceiling tiles and pictures of Cornell Athletics teams plastered on the walls — these markings, Peppin said, are what he “would like to see continue” with the bar’s next owner.
“His thought is that it’s something of a Collegetown institution,” said Brian Rettger, manager of Dunbar’s, who described the bar as a “divey sports bar.”
“[Peppin has] made it clear that he wants it to stay pretty much the same,” Rettger added.
So far, Peppin said he has heard from three people interested in buying the bar. He said that, although it is too early to predict, he thinks the prospects for Dunbar’s sale seem promising.
“I’m not sure how interested they are, but I think as word gets around, someone will buy it. It’s in a good spot, it’s unique and with [The Palms, Dinos and Johnny O’s] closed, I think our business has been better on weekends,” he said.
Although Peppin said there have been times when he would have “rather been home or on vacation” than at the bar, he recalled several fond memories formed at Dunbar’s over the years: seeing former patrons who frequented the bar decades ago return for a weekend, as well as welcoming hundreds of Cornell alumni into the bar over Homecoming and Reunion Weekends.
“I may not remember some of their names, but they come in and they still come back, and Dunbar’s is where they come,” Peppin said. “I’ve always appreciated that, and I hope to keep in touch with Dunbar’s and the people I’ve met.”
Peppin summed up his Dunbar’s experience in a few wistful words.
“I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the kids, and we’ve had a great crowd,” he said.