Another iconic dive bar is vanishing from the Portland map

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Mary Bonnevie drinks a beer Rockin' Rickey's Tavern on Portland Street in Portland on Thursday morning. On Wednesday night, the long-running bar announced it would close in December. "I'm not too happy about it," said Bonnevie.
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Another iconic local dive bar will soon be gone. This time, it's Rockin' Rickey's on Portland Street, across from the post office.
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PORTLAND, Maine — Another iconic local dive bar will soon be gone. This time, it’s Rockin’ Rickey’s on Portland Street, across from the post office.

The tavern announced it was closing on Dec. 21 in a Facebook post on Wednesday. It follows other departed or remodeled bars such as Sangillo’s, George’s, the Griffin Club and Forest Gardens.

“It’s with [a] heavy Heart that I am announcing the end of an era,” wrote co-owner Ed Simmons about the nearly 45-year-old watering hole. “Novels could be written of all the happy times, sad times, fun times and not so fun times.”

A few minutes after its 11 a.m. opening time on Thursday, nearly half-a-dozen patrons sat at the bar, sipping yellow beer from plastic cups. All of them had heard the news and none were enthused.

“I’m not too happy about it,” Mary Bonnevie said.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A sign on the side of Rockin' Rickey's Tavern on Portland Street in Portland matches one on the front door. On Wednesday night, the long-running bar announced it would close in December.

Rickey’s is well known in the city for its earthy barflies, strong drinks and cheap beer. A handwritten sign on the beer cooler advertised $1.75 Jell-O shots on Thursday.

“I like it because of the loud music and the people — even the food is good.” said Bonnevie, who lives in the neighborhood. “It’s a come-as-you-are, no-makeup, barely showered kind of place.”

In 2011, the city made Rickey’s install surveillance cameras in an effort to curb perceived crime outside its doors in Bayside. However, the Portland Press Herald reported at the time that the police department did not believe the tavern was the source of any crime.

“There’s some public nuisance offenses down there — to include prostitution, drug dealing, drug usage — that people automatically attribute to Ricky’s, even though when we did a thorough analysis … we did not agree,” said then-Assistant Chief Michael Sauschuck.

It wasn’t immediately clear what is prompting the bar to close. Simmons did not elaborate in his Facebook post and efforts to reach him on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Rockin' Rickey's Tavern stands on Portland Street in Portland on Thursday. On Wednesday night, the 40-something-year-old bar announced it would close in December.

According to city tax records, the building is owned by Simmons’ mother, Jean Simmons, who died on Sept. 1.

Whatever the reason for the shutdown, Thursday morning’s patrons were unhappy with the news.

“It’s like ‘Cheers.’ Everyone knows everybody and everyone loves everybody. Even when there’s disagreements, it’s over the next day.” said one woman, as she bummed a beer from a man with a pitcher.

When asked her name, she answered, “Just write Hope J. Everyone down here will know who you mean.”

 



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