Conor Byrne Pub to reopen in August as a cooperative

The beloved Conor Byrne Pub (5140 Ballard Ave NW) will reopen its doors again this August, reborn as a cooperative.

When the bar announced its imminent closure in March, a group of employees, artists, and community members banded together to save the Conor Byrne, turning it into a cooperative. The bar will now operate on a membership-based model for funding.

With over 400 founding members, Conor Byrne is now ready to reopen to the public on August 2.

In a press release, Conor Byrne’s Leigh Bezezekoff says the co-op is “committed to maintaining the spirit of Conor Byrne that has stood the test of time as a beacon for local musicians while calling in the community to have their voices heard when it comes to the kind of venue they wish to see in Seattle.”

They’ll keep the programming the same, with shows from local and touring artists and the popular open mic night, Tuesday Country Dance Night, and what they say is a “retooled” version of the Monday Bluegrass night.

In the spirit of the new co-op model, the founders surveyed new members to see what kind of programming they wanted to see at the pub. The responses confirmed they wanted to continue to see singer/songwriters, Americana acts, and indie rock. Bezezekoff says some R&B and jazz acts in the works as well.

“The beauty of the co-op is that we get to keep what was working and lean on the community to invite in new ideas that increase patronage while incentivizing the community to get involved to keep the doors of Conor Byrne open for many years to come,” said Andi Scher, who manages Conor Byrne’s marketing and business development. 

The future of Conor Byrne is dependent upon the cooperative membership model succeeding. While they had a massive initial wave of support—meeting a $40,000 goal in just 48 hours—they say “there is a long way to go to ensure the pub remains open.”

Conor Byrne’s treasurer and strategic visionist Dan Sodomka said they need continued support to make it work.

“We have developed a vision to turn this into a sustainable business model, but it’s going to take each of us to come out to protect the places we love,” Sodomka said. “That might look like becoming a member, investing in Conor Byrne, offering donations through our fiscal sponsor (Shunpike), buying tickets to shows ahead of time, private rentals like the taping of a recent Art Zone episode, or simply patronizing the bar more frequently.

“It’s not just one of these things that will save Conor Byrne, it’s all of them. Just like it’s not just one person swooping in to save Conor Byrne; it’s all of us!” Sodomka said.

The Moondoggies along with Acapulco Lips & Natt Meek will play Conor Byrne’s reopening night on August 2. St. Yuma & The Waddlers will take the stage on August 3. Tickets go on sale on July 12 on Conor Byrne’s website.

“Beyond re-opening, it will be in the community’s hands to keep the doors open at Ballard’s oldest venue,” Bezezekoff said.

Photo: Conor Byrne Pub