Sunny side sips

Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are opening a bar in Old City with some friends.

Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are opening a bar in Old City with some friends.

Always wished you could grab a beer at Paddy’s Pub with the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang but felt alone and incomplete because you couldn’t?
Wish granted.

It’s Always Sunny stars and spouses Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson are opening a bar in Old City, to be located at 226 Market St. The Mac and Sweet Dee actors will be co-owners of Mac’s Tavern, along with four friends, who all know each other from their years at St. Joe’s Preparatory school.


Ben Haney, a real estate investor and former St. Joe’s Prep teacher, is one of the co-owners and will oversee the day-to-day operations.

“We’re not going for a Cheers. We don’t want it to be gimmicky. We want it to be a standalone bar. It’s a bar that happens to be co-owned by people from It’s Always Sunny. The best way to put it is, if you like the show, you’ll like the bar,” Haney said in an interview in front of the Sunny gang’s favorite coffee shop, Philadelphia Java Company.

“There’s going to be elements of it, but don’t necessarily go in there expecting to see waiters dressed as Greenman or something. We’re trying to create the bar that we always wanted to go to.”

They said the bar they always wanted to go to would have a relaxed atmosphere, a view of the game, good food and economical pints. This, too, is the plan for Mac’s Tavern.

“Unpretentious – that’s our motto,” Haney said.

Mac’s has been in the works for about three years, beginning when Haney and St. Joe’s Prep Dean of Students Dennis Hart decided to open a bar together. It grew to include several more friends, including McElhenney and Olson.

“It came to a head last year when we started looking for a place. The story broke, Philadelphia Inquirer ran the story, and then we finally found the place, Skinners,” Haney said.

The bar where Mac’s will be is currently Skinner’s, and while the group plans to outfit the inside with new floors, furnishings and fresh paint, the staff will remain.

“We wanted to be open by St. Patty’s Day, but through no fault of our own, we can’t. We’re not five months away. I would say sometime in April,” Haney said.

Transferring the liquor license from Skinner’s to Mac’s Tavern has posed a problem, not because folks are voicing complaints, but rather because it’s a lengthy and complicated process.

“We’ve been really fortunate that we haven’t had to try too hard to get our name out. Everybody’s been really happy about it. The Philadelphia Inquirer has been helpful. Local bar blogs and restaurant blogs want people to succeed,” Haney said of the bar garnering local support.

Even longtime Skinner’s patrons are intrigued. They have only gotten one complaint thus far: the booths.

“I know a lot of people have been crying about the booths. They have these booths that apparently a lot of people like,” he said.

Despite cries to keep them, the booths are out, substituted by high-top tables to allow more people in the space.

The FX series has a loyal following, both in Philly and elsewhere. The Mac’s Tavern Facebook fan page has drawn more than 1,200 fans and an overwhelming response of comments.

“I’m your No. 1 Australian fan! Next time I’m in the states, I’ll be sure to make a detour to Mac’s Tav!” Eliza May wrote.

“Can’t wait! Will there be [Wi Fi] so I can get a hoagie through the Internet?” Lisa Capuzzi McGarrey asked.

Alia Chaudhri, a senior political science and economics major, said she is looking forward to visiting Mac’s because she’s a fan of the show and feels it represents the spirit of Philadelphia.

“I started watching [It’s Always Sunny] because it had the word ‘Philadelphia’ in it. The World Series episode was the greatest thing on television. I would love to visit that bar. It’s like being in a piece of the show. Everyone I know watches that show,” she said.

Fans like Chaudhri can be a part of the upcoming grand opening festivities, which will be a series of openings to ensure room for everyone.

“There’s going to be a couple rounds of openings,” Haney said. “We put a little charity thing together. For a donation, you can become a part of our bar. We’re going to have a plaque. You’ll be on the mailing list, and we’ll have a grand opening separate for the VIPs.”

Following the opening schedule, Mac’s will begin weekly Quizzo, game-day events and of course, show-watching nights.

What if you have your heart set on meeting Mac, Dee, Charlie, Dennis or Frank in the flesh?

“The plan is the cast members will make an appearance, but it’s dependent on timing. When they’re in town, they will be at the bar,” Haney said. “It’s their intention to be a part of it.”

Michelle Provencher can be reached at

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