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John Barleycorn in Owego set to close its doors

OWEGO (WBNG) — John Barleycorn has been a staple in the village of Owego for nearly half a century, but now it’s last call.

Owner and general manager Barbara Dunnigan says the decision to close was bittersweet, yet very hard.

Dunnigan moved back home to Owego from San Francisco with her husband, just to buy John Barleycorn.

“We tried to keep it going as long as it could but I need to retire for one thing and things haven’t been as hot as they used to be. The climate is very bitter right now,” said Dunnigan.

She says business is slower and she thinks it’s because the bar is out-aging its regular crowd.

“The generations change, you saw the regular crowd change, and there used to be groups of younger people maybe in their 30’s,” said Dunnigan. “They started getting married, having babies, moved away. So waiting for the younger kids now, it’s a really different climate. They do different things. I think a lot of them go to Binghamton. That’s different they didn’t used to do that as much.”

But she says the decision isn’t only about the finances.

“It’s hard for me physically too, now. But if the business was booming I wouldn’t have a care in the world, probably. But I still need a break, I work seven days a week,” said Dunnigan.

While the bar itself will be missed, so will the Barleycorn pizza made by Bob Tiddick.

Tiddick makes specialty pizzas in the bar’s kitchen upstairs. He then sells them to customers downstairs, and for take-out.

Tiddick says other businesses have already reached out to him about bringing Barleycorn Pizza elsewhere.

“I’m open to that thought because the business is rolling along and I have a regular clientele and if i stop for a long period of time you have to start from scratch again,” said Tiddick.

But there are no set plans for the pizza, or the Barleycorn building.

Dunnigan says the space is for sale and she hopes someone will buy it and keep it John Barleycorn.

I still would like to see, no matter what, somebody get it who will save it. And rejuvenate it,” said Dunnigan.

Its last day will be March 30 and the bar will be holding a closing bash with live music.

Dunnigan says she hopes throughout the month patrons will have the opportunity to come in to say goodbye and share their memories.

Annie Flaherty

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