A historic Casper watering hole will soon be closing its doors.
The World Famous Wonder Bar will close Oct. 8.
Owner Pat Sweeney confirmed Thursday he was selling the Wonder Bar, along with Poor Boy’s Steakhouse. Poor Boy’s will close Oct. 1. All employees will be laid off.
“We weren’t out there pounding the pavement per se,” Sweeney said.
But Sweeney said he and business partner Jason Beck had been exploring a potential sale rather than taking out loans to renovate both businesses. Sweeney said the buyers were taking the unusual step of closing the businesses following acquisition.
“Most people want an ongoing concern,” Sweeney said. “But they wanted to be able to jump right into a renovation plan.”
Sweeney said he hopes the new owners keep the Wonder Bar alive, though he said he has no idea what their plans are.
“It’s a key part of downtown,” Sweeney, who bought and reopened the bar in 2002, said. The building was constructed in 1914 and the Wonder Bar opened in 1934. Sweeney said it has cycled through about 10 owners over the years.
While Sweeney said he could not disclose the buyers, documents filed with the city of Casper show liquor licenses for both businesses have been transferred to corporations registered to Cole Cercy. Cercy’s father, Tony, sold Casper manufacturing firm Power Service to a Houston-based company in April for an undisclosed all-cash sum.
Tony Cercy did not respond to messages left at his home and office Thursday. Cole did not immediately respond to an email message and the voicemail on his publicly listed phone number was full.
Sweeney said selling the Wonder Bar and Poor Boy’s was “bittersweet.”
The Wonder Bar has been known for famous guests over the years, which Sweeney said include Ernest Hemingway, Dizzy Gillespie and John Wayne. During the bar’s early years, people could supposedly ride into the bar on horseback and order drinks without dismounting.
What became Poor Boy’s opened inside the Parkway Plaza Hotel around 20 years ago, Sweeney said, and he helped build the menu from scratch. As for the Wonder Bar, Sweeney was especially proud of the job he and Beck did attracting musical acts and creating what he called central Wyoming’s only brewery inside the bar.
“The brewery’s never really been touted or accepted,” Sweeney lamented.
He said employees would be kept on for around one week after each business closes to clean the buildings and dispose of food products. Sweeney said he was working with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services to help current employees, especially the managers, find new jobs.
“We’ve got a good team at both places and we want to make sure that their lives go on, too,” Sweeney said. He declined to say whether the laid-off employees would be paid severance.