Murphy’s Bar & Grill closes for good after pipe burst destroys cooler

By TJ Rhodes
Posted 2/7/24


It is truly the end of an era.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Murphy’s Bar & Grill updated their patrons via Facebook that a ceiling pipe burst, “showering” the …

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Murphy’s Bar & Grill closes for good after pipe burst destroys cooler



It is truly the end of an era.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Murphy’s Bar & Grill updated their patrons via Facebook that a ceiling pipe burst, “showering” the restaurant with water. They closed for an extensive clean-up; however, the process took longer than the team expected as more bad news flooded in. The point of sale – POS – system needed replaced, there were insurance hold-ups, and to top it off, the cooler was deemed unfixable.

This unfortunate sequence of events began with a week of artic temperatures – as low as -20 ° on Jan. 15 -- that caused the pipe to burst.

“We had a tight freeze between the apartment upstairs and here. We had a floodwater for about two and a half hours over the register and over the cooler. Our intention was to dry everything out, fix what was damaged, and replace the computer and the inventory that was damaged,” owner Carrie Westcott said. “As we were waiting for the insurance, we realized that the cooler was not drying out.”

The cooler would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Cosmetically, it looks okay [but] you can smell it,” Carrie said. “There was no way, without tearing the whole cooler apart and rebuilding it, that we were going to be able to put food in it again.”

As the damage was too much to bear, Carrie and her daughter, Kirstin Westcott, agreed with the building owner that they would close the restaurant for good. They announced this, along with one last hoorah set for Saturday, Feb 3, via Facebook on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

On Saturday morning, Murphy’s opened their doors at 11 a.m., and the bar filled up almost immediately. They served cheap drinks, food in a buffet line and hosted a silent auction.

The auction included various untouched bottles of alcohol, as well as Murphy’s signage and alcohol-brand neons.

Later on, the bar hosted one last BINGO game and announced winners of the silent auction. The proceeds of this final event went to both the employees of Murphy’s and some of the organizations they’ve supported along the way. They served until supplies ran out.

Going forward, Kirstin and Murphy’s General Manager, Jennifer Grecian, will start working for Carrie’s financial accounting business. Of the two other full-time employees, one has found a new job and the other is using this time to help a family member in need. The rest of Murphy’s staff was part-time and held jobs elsewhere.

Of course, this is not the first-time patrons have said goodbye to Murphy’s. 

In July 2021, Murphy’s Bar & Grill shut down as Jerry Murphy, the restaurant’s founder, was ready to move on after 25 years of service.

At the time, both Carrie and Kirstin had just moved to the Riverside area.

“We thought that there needed to be a place to go and have a few drinks and watch football or whatever,” Carrie said. “We decided we would open [Murphy’s] back up on a whim.”

Carrie had the financial grip and Kirstin held the restaurant experience. This helped keep good spirits on Riverside’s strip.

“I’ve learned more about the restaurant business than [most] and it was really fun,” Carrie said.

The Westcotts have left a massive impact on the Riverside community in their two short years at Murphy’s, in large part due to the numerous fundraisers they’ve held. 

This began after neighboring restaurant La Chiva Loca was broken into and needed assistance repairing damages. It turned into a themed monthly fundraiser with immeasurable reach.

“We love to support the causes and the community, and I think that probably the biggest disappointment is that we don’t have that to do anymore,” Carrie said. “With my accounting business, I’m certainly going to give [fundraisers] a try.”

Carrie cannot rule out taking on another “adventure” in the future. Kirstin, on the other hand, is willing to pick up some serving shifts but will likely step back from the restaurant industry.

“It’s sad, a little bittersweet,” Kirstin said. “It’s sad to see a business that’s been in the community for so long not make it like a lot of other small businesses. Good things come, so it’ll work out.”

As to the future of the building, the upstairs apartment – where the pipe burst initiated – is being remodeled. Otherwise, the Westcotts do not know the full extent of damage to the building.

It’s too early to tell what the space will become next.

Murphys bar and grill, winter weather, close, Riverside, Iowa.