It’s the end of an era as the Delta Lion Pub gets set to close its doors for good next week.
After 46 years in operation, the venerable North Delta watering hole announced on Jan. 18 it would be pouring its last pint at the end of the month.
“We were hoping to do a 50-year anniversary in a few years, but we just couldn’t get to that finish line,” general manager Greg Mahony told the Reporter.
“North Delta’s been an amazing community for us. We’ve made a lot of great friends over the years, and this past week so many people have come out and said goodbye and said hello again and come for one last drink. So we’re hoping to really celebrate our time in North Delta over the next week and see some old friends and put a nice bow on it and go from there.”
The Lion’s official last day of operations will be Tuesday, Jan. 31, but the big night for those hoping to get one last pint at the North Delta institution will be this Saturday.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook trying to get reservations, but unfortunately there’s no reservations that night — just come on down and hopefully everyone will have the chance to get in,” Mahony said. “But if not, we’re open Friday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… so if you don’t get in Saturday come back and I’d love to have one last pint with everyone.”
The Delta Lion opened in 1977 as a small British-style pub located across the street from where it is now. The pub has been in the Mahony family for 38 years, after Greg’s father Peter bought it from then-owner Harry Beck in 1985.
In 1996, the Lion moved to its current home at 11186 84th Ave., where it has stood for the last 27 years.
Mahony has worked at the pub “on and off” for 30 years, starting with a stint in the kitchen of the old location when he was 19.
“Then I came back and bartended for a bit, then I opened Big Pete’s Liquor Store in 2004, so I was doing that for five or six years, and then our family business — we have a few other locations with Mahony’s Irish Pubs downtown.”
But for the bulk of the last 20 years, he’s served as the Delta Lion’s general manager — “at some points some of my brothers were GM while I was doing other things.”
“It’s been such a fun place to work,” Mahony said.
“Brad, one of our bar managers, he’s been with us for 30 years — he used to work at the old pub, so he’s been a longtime employee. There’s been quite a few people who’ve been there well over 10 years that we’re going to miss a lot. They’ve been awesome.”
Mahony didn’t want to get into the weeds about all the reasons behind the decision to close the pub, saying, “in the simplest terms, it’s just a sign of the times.”
“Financially, we can’t make a go of it. We’re just not busy enough, revenues aren’t there like the old days. There’s a lot of factors… [but] essentially, COVID recovery was not there for us.”
“It’s been a good run, but like a lot of businesses these days, getting past COVID and being able to stand on your own two feet without those subsidies has been very difficult for us. And with the selling of the mall last summer, we just thought it was time to say goodbye and move on.”
Mahony said it’s going to be sad to see the pub close its doors for the last time, but offered a glimmer of hope for the future of the establishment.
“It might be reincarnated soon, another operator might come in and operate it, but that’s to be determined.”