Who Are We Wednesday- Charles Patrick, Owner Molly's Irish Grille and Pub
BETHLEHEM --- The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating in many different ways. In the United States alone, more than 100,000 people have died and 30 million plus people are out of work. Non-essential businesses have been forced to cease operations or modify their procedures. But before we touch on how that last part hits close to home, we wanted to reflect on what these last 15 months have been like and why we feel as secure as ever in our mission.
In our first year, we raised nearly $100,000 for several different cancer organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley. We also hosted nearly a dozen events, none bigger than the 2019 Knockout Challenge. Last year, we had eight competitors hone in on one type of cancer and team up with local businesses to help take the disease down. One venue that gave us a puncher's chance was Molly's Irish Grille & Sports Pub in Southside Bethlehem, thanks to longtime owner Charles Patrick, better known as "Chaz." His willingness to host our Knockout Challenge Celebrity Bartending Night was one reason why we felt victorious in the end. However, it is Patrick who is now doing everything he can just to stay in the fight.
Chaz says prior to the outbreak, he had Molly's in the "best financial shape of our life." Then the day before St. Patrick's Day, which is historically in the middle of the pub's busiest time of the year, the bar was dealt a massive blow. The effects of the pandemic had made its way to Molly's and the restaurant saw only three percent of what it had brought in the previous year. That, coupled with the cancellation of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, was all Chaz says he needed to throw in the towel and temporarily shut down for a month. Since then, he says Molly's has re-opened but struggled, doing very little curbside takeout.
"It was the perfect storm all coming together," says Patrick. "I would love to open but I don't need to lose my liquor license."
Patrick, originally from Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, has lived in Bethlehem for nearly 30 years and owned Molly's the last 10. He graduated from Widener University with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. He first came to the Lehigh Valley as a manager at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar.
"I was sent to the Lehigh Valley," laughed Patrick. "I ended staying up here because I loved it up here. People were nice, friendly. It is close to New York City, Philadelphia and the beach (so it was perfect for me)."
Patrick left Applebees and had several different jobs over the next decade before the former owner of 'New Street Bridgeworks' brought him into the business. He officially changed the name in 2010.
"It's been a great experience. It was a lot of work in the beginning. We had to shake off the stigma (of former tenants). We battled through some rough times but we've had a great run," says Patrick.
Every Ribbon Counts has been fortunate to have been front-and-center for a small part of Molly's success. Not only were we there for our Knockout Challenge but a couple months prior, Molly's served as a stop on the foundation's fundraising bar crawl. When asked why he offered up his business, Patrick says it was just the right thing to do.
"I'm fortunate to have a good business and get a lot of people in the door. I try 99.9 percent of the time to help in anyway I can," says Patrick.
While he did not want to go into specifics, Chaz says many different friends and family members have had "bad" bouts with cancer. Patrick admits that has played a part in helping out ERC among other charities.
"They raised a good amount of money (the celebrity bartending night)," says Chaz. "It was a good night. Everyone seemed to have a good time."
Everyone felt even better about the event when Patrick made his own generous donation, matched the night's efforts.
"You see people suffering and you want to do something to help. I was fortunate to be in that position so I did what I can," says Patrick.
Now though it is time to return the favor. Molly's is not the only business that is struggling but since Chaz has shown he will be there for us, we will stand by his side now more than ever. Molly's was going to serve as a stop along our 'Derby Dash Pub Crawl' earlier this month. We are poised and determined to make that a reality come September. Then in November, the 2020 Knockout Challenge will get underway and our loyal partner has promised to support us once again by hosting our Celebrity Bartending Night.
So the next time you think about taking out food or grabbing a drink to go, remember Chaz, his big heart and the restaurant that has always been in our corner.