A Story's End: Final Sendoff Planned For Century-Old Teehan's Building

TINLEY PARK, IL — In its final days in the building that’s stood for a more than a century, Teehan’s Tavern is in for quite a sendoff.

With the last day of business in its current building set for March 3, staff at the beloved pub are making it a point to pour all they have into giving its fans a sense of closure at the end of this chapter. Starting days before its closing, the bar will feature live music, commemorative memorabilia, and time to celebrate the pub’s history.

“This is about helping people feel at peace with the closing,” said Shannon McAuliffe, who has been managing the bar since former owner and manager Regis Teehan’s retirement in September.

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Starting Thursday, Feb. 29 and dubbed Teehan’s Tribute Fest, the bar will be abuzz with live music, ranging from acoustic performances inside to full bands outside in the tent over the weekend, McAuliffe said. Commemorative shot glasses will be handed out to the first 400 people, and T-shirts are available for purchase.

“I wanted people to be able to come, and really send it off,” McAuliffe said.

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The response has been overwhelming, McAuliffe said.

“It’s really exciting,” McAuliffe said. “I can’t wait to see all the people.”

Pub patrons and supporters last fall were disappointed—and some angry—to learn that the 171-year-old building at 17329 Oak Park Ave. in the heart of Tinley’s downtown would be demolished. Little comfort was brought by the news that the Village had purchased the rights to the name, with the plans to build anew. The Village plans to essentially replicate the building — with some modernizations — on the same property and lease it along with the Teehan’s Tavern name.

Teehan was quick to note that the choice had been hers, and that she was ready for retirement. Teehan had served in the role for 34 years, at the bar that has been in her family since 1917. The bar has continued operating after her retirement, with Durbin’s Pizza owner Tom McAuliffe signing a lease to take over the space both until and after its closing, demolition, and ultimate resurrection.

Shannon McAuliffe, daughter of Tom McAuliffe, said she knows from experience how people feel about their beloved local pub closing. Tom McAuliffe previously operated a Durbin’s location a block away from Teehan’s for nearly 20 years; that location closed in March 2022 due to a rent dispute with the building’s owner.

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“I haven’t been there forever, but I know how they feel from that closing,” McAuliffe said. “I want to make it as special as I can for them.”

It’s the loss—albeit temporary—of a local favorite.

McAuliffe stressed Teehan’s will rebuild, and it will be better than ever. The current building requires major work and is not structurally sound, both she and Village officials have said.

“We are reopening, and it’s going to be amazing,” she said. “We do plan on upholding the family traditions. We’re Irish—Regis is wonderful, we get along great.”

The new building will feature some aspects of the current one, to be plucked from the structure before it’s razed.

“Everyone I’ve talked with from the Village has made me feel confident that the Teehan’s legacy will be honored in the reconstruction and reopening,” Teehan said previously.

“This bar is like a member of my family. It was my great-grandfather who bought it in 1917. After him, it was Grandma who ran it, then my father. When it came to me in 1989, I was ready to carry the torch, and now I’m ready to pass it.

“Teehan’s has been a part of Tinley Park for over a century. Our tiny farm town has grown a great deal since those days — even since I took over the business — but the heart of Tinley Park remains situated on Oak Park Avenue, and I’m happy to know that the new owners and management understand and respect the role my family’s tavern has played in Tinley Park for all of these years.”

One thing my father always said to me was, ‘Change always comes,’ and I guess this is just one of those changes. The fact is, though, I’m ready to retire. I grew up in this bar, and I took it over in 1989. This has been a wonderful, wild ride, and now it’s time for me to hop off the Tilt-a-Whirl. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision, but I want to travel and read and spend more time with my family. And the way the world is, who knows how much more time anyone has?

— Regis Teehan, in August 2023

Teehan has since taken to YouTube to share tidbits about the tavern’s story in segments called Teehan Tales.

McAuliffe said the Teehan’s legacy and significance to the town aren’t lost on her.

“We realize the history in that building, and want to keep that integrity,” she said.

There is no date set yet for demolition, Village Manager Pat Carr told Patch, but interior remediation begins March 4. Demolition could begin by the end of March. Plans for the new building include rooftop seating overlooking the highly touted Harmony Square, a new multi-use plaza that will be located at the corner of Oak Park Avenue and North Street in downtown Tinley.

Harmony Square, which was designed by the Lakota Group and will be constructed on 1.6 acres, will include an adaptive plaza space that will have events scheduled year-round. Features will include an artificial turf lawn, a concert stage and a focal “gateway” plaza on the other, seasonal fire pits, a splash pad for summer that converts into an ice rink during the winter, and a support building for skate rentals and a warming hut, as well as other amenities.

With the future Teehan’s still a concept now, McAuliffe’s focus remains on giving people a chance to say goodbye to its past. People from out of state—Arizona, Colorado, Las Vegas and Florida—have reached out to her asking for a shirt.

“I literally have people in my Facebook Messenger sending pictures of their dads at the bar,” she said, remarking on the bar’s meaning to so many.

Live music starts Thursday night, with Liam Durkin. A tent will be erected Friday night with music by DJ Thomas Promise, in addition to Sean & John Band. Saturday’s music is from Todd & Friends. One last hurrah is planned for Sunday, March 3, during the Tinley Park Irish Parade. Sunday’s music is by Katie Sullivan, Andy Live, Super Fly Redneck Band and Billy’s Boys.

McAuliffe invites all out to say their goodbyes.

“Come and tip your glass,” she said. “Tell your stories.”

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