C.B. Hannegan’s has been a fixture in Los Gatos for 38 years. For the past three of those years, the traditional Irish pub has been ardently trying to broker a long-term lease at 208 Bachmann Avenue. After years of negotiations, the familiar, friendly watering hole finally closed it doors on December 28, 2017.
Co-owners Chris Benson and Johnny Hannegan opened their pub in September 1979. Their goal was to create a gathering place “where people from all walks of life-corporate executives to construction workers, families to singles-could enjoy good food and drink.”
And that they have. For 38 years, C.B. Hannegan’s has had a loyal following, people who drop by to connect with friends, watch the game or unwind after a long day at work. The establishment has also played host to innumerable birthdays, celebrations of life and many of its patrons’ personal events. In true Irish fashion, the pub hosts a rousing Saint Patrick’s Day celebration each year that draws hundreds to downtown Los Gatos.
Benson and Hannegan were also known for their generosity and giving back to the community. This included feeding the hundreds of firefighters battling the Lexington blaze in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1985 as well as volunteering to cook for the town’s annual Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon.
Originally, Benson and Hannegan expected to close up shop in early 2017. “We’ve been trying to get a lease for two years,” Benson said in 2016. “The property owners want to significantly increase our rent and they want us to invest a large amount of money into the building. After looking long and hard at our projected sales figures, we decided the numbers just don’t crunch.”
The two continued to keep the pub’s doors open through 2017 in the hopes that long-term lease would come to fruition but it never materialized. Added Hannegan, “The building does need repairs, but we can’t afford to fix it with a month-to-month lease. We can’t get a construction loan without the security of a long-term lease.”
C.B. Hannegan’s final farewell took place on Thursday, December 28th. The event kicked off at 5pm with live music from Sam Roy and the Beach Cowboys, a taco and oyster bar (Bill “the Oyster Man” drove over from Santa Cruz to shuck oysters), and a throng of regulars who came to enjoy one last night at their favorite Irish pub. An auction occurred the following day to sell the pub’s myriad of photographs and other memorabilia that chronicled its 38 years in Los Gatos.
Johnny Hannegan plans to embrace his newfound time by enjoying “more hunting, fishing and wine making.” His former business partner, Chris Benson, has ambitions to continue offering the pub’s renowned barbeque with his catering business, Chris’s Bodacious Barbecue. Said Benson, “I’m going to keep the barbecue catering going if everything falls into place.”
“We’re sad, but there’s no crying,” Hannegan said of the pub’s closure. “We’re going to have fun until the end. It’s been a great run.” The response from locals and longtime patrons echo this sentiment, with many lamenting the loss of a Los Gatos icon.
The future of the space at 208 Bachman Avenue occupied by C.B. Hannegan’s remains to be seen but it is fair to say, the beloved Irish pub has left very large shoes to fill.