Almost everyone who ventured west past 40th Street during our time at Penn surely remembers the phrase, “See You in Church!” uttered by Joe Murphy, aka Murph, of Murphy’s Tavern fame as you exited the bar late on Saturday night (or early Sunday morning). Situated at the northeast corner of 44th and Spruce, Murphy’s Tavern was a favorite local and campus bar. We asked classmates to share their memories.
By Josh Frank, C’93, and Julie Berliner Bell, C’93
From Julie, remembering Murph:
He was always happy to see us….gave a great deal on pitchers and what was that red drink we got there? I don’t remember what it was called.
Editor: The Skylab?
Julie: Yes! The Skylab! The bar was gross, but Murph was always happy to have us (even those of us with bad fake IDs).
Julie Berliner Bell and Murph of Murphy’s Tavern
Julie Berliner Bell poses with Murph outside of Murphy’s Tavern on Hey Day, April 1993.
What can I say about Murph and Murphy’s Tavern? It was the quintessential bar, and one my friends and I preferred over any other establishment around campus. It had everything we wanted from a bar, and nothing we disliked. Memories are hazy at this point, but I distinctly remember that there was always great music. It wasn’t small, but it wasn’t so big that you felt like you couldn’t see and interact with everyone there on any given night. It had the perfect balance of intimacy and yet wasn’t too claustrophobic. It had zero pretension, but wasn’t a dump — it had the perfect vibe, and I would have been thrilled to find a bar exactly like Murph’s at any point in my 20s to hang out in. Murph’s had an iconic and unique drink, the Skylab, that was the perfect drink for college students because it was not too expensive, it was full of alcohol, it tasted great, it had a great name, and was indigenous to Murph’s and only Murph’s.
Over everything, though, Murph’s had Murph, who was the quintessential Irish bar owner. Friendly, gregarious, always welcoming of his regulars, but happy to have newcomers. Anyone coming into his bar immediately felt at home. Murph had a great schtick, mostly because it wasn’t schtick for him, it was completely and totally authentic.
Josh sent this photo saying, “I’m disowning my friends for not including me in this picture. I was with them at Murph’s that morning, so I’m not sure how I missed being in this photo, but I will never fully forgive them.”
Eric Palace, Jef Pollock, Murph, Josh Kopelman, and Michael Berman, photo courtesy of Josh Frank.
Murph’s “See You In Church” that he said to everyone as they left his bar may have led to Jef’s eventual marriage to his wife, Deb Brown. As I recall, Deb was a columnist for the DP, and named her column “See You In Church”. Jef and I didn’t know Deb at that point, but we thought her picture was cute (as much as one could see of a one square inch black and white photo in the DP), and that she had to be super-cool to name her column after Murph’s tag line. Jef eventually pursued Deb, and the rest is history. I don’t know if Jef and Deb consider Murph responsible in any way for their relationship, but I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are many couples who are still together who met in some small or big way because of Murph’s. What held true for Jef and me looking at Deb’s column still holds true today — anyone who “got” Murph’s was our kind of person, and that’s all anyone can ask for from their favorite college bar.
Absolutely, 10000% true. We also named our first pet guinea pig with our kids Murphy.
What happened to Murphy’s Tavern? After multiple Liquor Control Board violations, Murphy’s was forced to close after a judge refused to renew their liquor license in January, 1997 (as detailed in this DP article
). Now the location is the site of Local 44, a “neighborhood beer joint.”
Read our post about another favorite campus bar, Smokey Joe’s
Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown
The weekend of January 5 – 6, 2018, marked 18 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!
Register NOW to attend our 25th Reunion!
Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:
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The Marriott Downtown (where we had a Penn 1993 and a Penn Alumni room block) is sold out for Alumni Weekend. There are alternative hotels near by. We recommend booking ASAP! Please see our class website for additional details.