Pret-a-Reporter

Legendary Hollywood Pub Where Kiefer Sutherland Once Romanced Julia Roberts Gets a Rebirth

Alen Lin

Irish drinking den Tom Bergin's has been revived by the team behind Dominick’s and Little Dom’s following a shutdown for extensive renovation work.

Tom Bergin’s, an Irish tavern that first opened in 1936 and has been at the same location for 63 years (and looked it), is now back in action following a serious seven-month scrubbing and faithful décor and menu update by new owner Warner Ebbink and his chef Brandon Boudet.

The two, whose projects Dominick’s and Little Dom’s are also carefully calibrated nostalgia-infused endeavors that draw a notably industry-flavored crowd, from Jake Gyllenhaal to Danny McBride, renovated the space with a focus on the outdated kitchen. It will now be offering a decidedly contemporary vision of the Celtic genre throwback, whether grass-fed Welsh rarebit or whiskey-centric cocktails.

“It’s more restoration than renovation, keeping with what was true of Bergin’s,” says Ebbink. “We just replaced and repaired what needed to be replaced and repaired, then distressed them so people won’t even know.”

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What certainly have been kept fully intact are the hundreds of cardboard-cutout shamrocks on the ceilings, which have been personalized with the names of the most devout customers over the decades. These include Cary Grant and Kiefer Sutherland.

Sutherland’s ex, Julia Roberts, was once found on the ceiling as well. “They both hung them together, and then he had hers taken down after they broke up,” says T.K. Vodrey, who owned Bergin’s for four decades before selling to Ebbink last year. Roberts famously ran off with Sutherland’s The Lost Boys co-star Jason Patric days before they were to be married. (In an ironic twist, Sutherland’s bachelor party — subsequently canceled — was to be held at Dominick’s.)

Bergin’s is widely regarded to have been the inspiration for Cheers. Although the claim may be debatable, as a number of spots over the years have also made the case, it is true that John Ratzenberger, who played Cliff Clavin, and George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson, would often belly up to the bar when not doing the same thing in-character on TV.

In prior years, Lee Majors and Glenn Ford would frequent Bergin’s for lunch, and, even earlier, when Tom Bergin himself was still around, Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien were regulars.

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