There’s probably some kind of existential question to be asked about whether a dive bar is still a dive bar if it moves down the block, but maybe more important is the continued operation of a timeless business like Tommy’s Pub in Charlotte. Founded as Tommy’s Pub in 1977 in a space that had been operated as a bar as far back as 1951, the Charlotte dive bar was forced to relocate when its plot of land was sold in 2015. After a hiatus working through the process of finding and procuring a new spot, Tommy’s Pub as it exists today opened in 2017 with new owner Jamie Starks at the helm.
Starks’ history with Tommy’s Pub included a long stint working as a bartender and manager at the bar when it was owned by Jim McNally who purchased the bar from original owner Tommy Karas, hence the name of the bar. Tommy’s Pub evolved over the years from a beer-only, cash-only, come-as-you-are dive bar to also a cash-only, come-as-you-are dive bar with liquor. The land that the original Tommy’s Pub occupied was sold with the intent to develop apartments, a move the owners fought but ultimately were unsuccessful in stopping.
Today, Tommy’s Pub occupies a space formerly used as a salon with some of the same characteristics of the original spot admittedly without some of the rough edges that characterized the Charlotte dive bar. When moving locations, luckily most of the fixtures and decorations made the trip, a heavy emphasis on NASCAR-related memorabilia donated by regulars. A green refrigerator manufactured in the 1970s and purchased in 1986 for $50 also made the voyage, the source of beer cans in today’s refreshed Tommy’s Pub space.