Owner: Molee McGarry
Why Bellingham? “I feel blessed to have chosen Bellingham or to have Bellingham choose us! This is an amazing community that supports and stands behind hard work, which is a huge part of why we are still here.”
Favorite shop downtown? The Arts District and Old Town Cafe
Bellingham may be a long ways from Europe, but a little slice of Ireland can be found right here on Commercial Street. Owner Molee McGarry has spent the last 10 years putting her heart and soul into Uisce, an Irish pub. The result isn’t just “some shamrocks stapled to the wall,” but the real deal. Her efforts have clearly paid off, as Bellingham locals refer to her bar as the Irish Embassy.
While growing up, Molee's father owned bars, and she began working in the bar business at 18 years old. She worked at various Irish bars across the country, and met co-founder of Uisce, Dave, while working at a bar in New York City. Born in Dublin, Dave always had the desire to open an Irish bar of his own, so the two went for it.
Molee grew up in Bellingham, but never thought she would return to live here. However, on a trip back to visit family, the perfect opportunity presented itself. The family with Irish heritage wanted to grab a drink at a pub, but Molee soon came to realize there were no Irish pubs in Bellingham. Molee and Dave could really see their business idea taking off in downtown Bellingham.
They found their current location, and things just fell into place. Although the building had a lot of potential, it also needed a lot of work. Molee and Dave built and designed the bar, transforming the blank space into the bar customers see today. The name translates to “water” in Irish Gaelic. If researched back far enough, the word is also related to whiskey. “Personally I have always thought that Uisce was a beautiful word in the Gaelic language,” Molee said. “It is often mispronounced, but that seems to add to the mystique of Uisce.” (Uisce is pronounced Ish-Kah.)
When Molee and Dave opened Uisce in 2006, Commercial Street was far from where it is today. The bar opened on St. Patrick’s Day, and the lines wrapped around the street corners were just the start to a successful decade of business. “Over this decade, I have watched our block blossom into a thriving part of downtown,” Molee said. “This makes me proud.”
Molee is also thrilled with her staff at Uisce. From day one, everyone at the bar has been like family. Johnny Lambert, manager of Uisce and Molee's right-hand man, is an integral part of the bar, earning significant praise from Molee. The family doesn’t stop with the employees, though. Over the years, Molee has seen a community formed within the bar. Since Uisce opened, she has seen people grow up and has been through life events with customers and employees. “I feel like Uisce attracts amazing individuals, whether it’s customers, musicians, people in business or organizations like the Downtown Bellingham Partnership,” Molee said. She truly appreciates the great working relationships with neighboring businesses.
As her part of downtown has recently grown and begun to thrive, Molee has realized what a great decision it was to open Uisce in Bellingham, rather than other cities across the country. “The sense of community on this block, and in this town, is just incredible,” she said. She attributes this recent rise to the team at the DBP. Arguably one of the DBP’s biggest fans, Molee donated to the Spring Fundraising Campaign: We Are All Downtown. She hopes the community understands the value of the Partnership and gets behind the organization. “It’s an amazing team and everyone is truly on board to make downtown the best it can be.” Believing the DBP is the brains and heart behind the success of downtown businesses, Molee is excited to see the Arts District continue to take off, and the State Street development plans follow closely after.
Head to 1319 Commercial St. for an authentic Irish pub.
Today's post was written by Kristin Foster, Media Intern.