Kelly's Irish(ish) pub in Belltown quietly went tits up last month, along with the bar's owner. The bar was established in 1979 and was best known (to those who knew it) as a decent spot to get a glass of tepid beer or a shot (no mixed drinks) offered in a freshly spit-shined glass. It was the kind of place where you could watch horse races with crippled old jockeys who would school you on racing and, during commercial breaks, courteously offer you a dose? helping? of crack. Or another beer. Lady's choice.

Kellys, gutted and shellacked.
  • Kelly's, gutted and shellacked.
So I was curious when, walking by the other night, I noticed that workers had torn up the crusty carpeting (so many stains! so many memories!), removed the mirrored walls, and were busy painting every surface a glaring white. The owner of the building, Michael Michaelidis, confirmed today that the space has been leased and a restaurant will open up there "sometime in the next four months," though he didn't know what kind of restaurant.

Which is now the $10-dollar question—what kind of restaurant is brave enough to set up shop in Kelly's old bones? The kind of establishment neighbors want or the kind of place that regulars crave? Because, much as neighbors would like to hope, I don't think you can overcome Kelly's reputation with just a coat of paint. The patrons are too dedicated. Going to Kelly's is part of their muscle memory. The bar had a mood, a vibe that any child of an alcoholic would recognize—like the lure of a family reunion taking place inside.