Elmo’s in Tryon closes Sunday, June 3

Published 5:18 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

Patrons enjoy a final Friday afternoon beer in Elmo's in Tryon. The historic pub will close its doors Sunday, June 3.


Pam Johnson drew the last beer from the taps at Elmo’s Pub & Grill Sunday, June 3 when the Tryon icon closed its doors.

Johnson posted the original announcement of Elmo’s closure to Facebook early Friday morning.

Elmo's Pub & Grill.

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“This is very hard for me to say, but Elmo’s will close its doors after Sunday night. I would like to thank everyone who bought a beer, mixed drink and down to a burger through the years. I have been there 18 years and I thank all of you for all your support!”

Johnson has invited the band Speedwell to play Sunday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. as a send off to staff and those who have patronized the bar over the years.

Founded in 1934, Elmo’s Pub & Grill was originally established as “Pop’s Beer Garden” by Pop Burnette. Since then the pub has seen several owners, different names and experienced a small location change, but has maintained a place in many locals’ hearts.

“This place closing is going to have a big effect on a lot of people,” said regular Patricia Gossenreiter. “People have shared a lot of laughter, a lot of tears – we’ve shared our lives in here.”

Janet Jackson said she has frequented the pub since 1979. At the time Johnson managed the bar and the two became good friends.

“It’s a hometown pub with people that we all know and have grown up with all our lives. People come in here and work out their problems,” Jackson said. “Out of everyone’s life experience, there’s usually someone who has been through what you are gong through and, without criticism or judgment, they help you sort it out.”

Lots of things get sorted out over a cold beer and a burger at Elmo’s.

The “family” of regulars that take their seat at the bar or tables in the front window shoot the breeze about everything – town politics, relationship issues, babies on the way, deaths in the family and even legal problems.

Elmo’s is a hard place to walk away from, Johnson said.

“It’s sad for me because this place means so many things to so many people,” she said trying to choke back the emotion she said had been welling up all day. “But running a small business, it’s just hard anymore. I’m rather overwhelmed by all the messages and phone calls we’ve gotten. I knew Elmo’s was loved but I could never have realized how much.”

Pam and her husband, Elliot, purchased the bar in 2004 from Tommy Southard, who Pam had worked for at the bar for a decade. Later that year, Elliot was killed in an accident and the name of the bar changed to Elmo’s in his honor.

With Elmo’s closing and her son, Wesley, preparing to head off to the Navy in four weeks, Johnson said she plans to enjoy time with him and then figure out her next step.