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Fire destroys Griff's Irish Pub in Montrose area; original owner 'devastated' to hear it's gone

Michael Griffith's opened the bar in 1965 and a sign says it's the oldest sports pub in Texas. Griffith sold it 20 years ago but said he was still a regular.

HOUSTON — An iconic bar and a piece of Houston history in the Montrose area burned down early Friday, leaving many longtime customers shocked and saddened.

Griff’s Irish Pub on Roseland Street near Harold Street has been a part of the neighborhood since it opened in 1965.

The sign outside of the bar says it is the oldest Irish sports pub in Texas. 

"It's like Cheers. There are regulars who I know will be heartbroken finding out about this," customer Grant Carr said.

Houston fire officials said the bar was engulfed in flames when they got there and it looks to be a total loss. 

"I was actually just driving home. I saw the fire trucks and gasped. 'Oh no! Not Griff's!' It's been such a huge part of the neighborhood," Sara Carr said. "My dad used to come here when he was 21. He used to come here, so it's been part of Houston for a really long time." 

The fire started just before 4 a.m. and was contained a short time later, but not before the damage was done, according to the Houston Fire Department.

From St. Patrick's Day to Sunday afternoon NFL games and trivia nights, Griff's welcomed customers of all ages.

We reached out to the original owner who said sold Griff's 20 years ago but said he was still a regular. Michael Griffith said he was devastated by the news of the fire and hopes the current owners rebuild. 

Griffith said he opened the bar after graduating from St. Thomas more than nearly six decades ago because the female students, in particular, wanted a "safe and fun" place to hang out.

He shared a story about meeting Janis Jopin when she performed at a nearby bar called Sand Mountain. Griffith said the rocker told him that if he thanked customers and treated them well, the business could last for decades.

Firefighters said the age of the building definitely made it more difficult to control because it made it more dangerous for the firefighters. The wind was also an issue.

Arson investigators said the building started toward the front of the bar and appears accidental.

Thankfully, no one was inside and there were no injuries.

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