Fergie's, the landmark Center City bar, has new co-owners

Fergus Carey (left) and Jim McNamara behind the bar at Fergie’s in March 2018, after submitting the ownership change to Pennsylvania authorities.

Fergie’s Pub, the popular Center City haunt, has new owners.

Founder Fergus Carey has completed a buy-in from Jim McNamara, who has worked at and managed the bar for almost its entire existence, along with Rebecca Strapp, McNamara’s former girlfriend and a bartender at Garage.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Fergus Carey (left) and Jim McNamara stand behind the bar at Fergie’s, 1214 Sansom St., near a portrait of co-founder Wajih Abed.

McNamara, Strapp, and Carey signed off on paperwork Monday, capping a waiting period by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Strapp will be an investor, not involved in day-to-day operations, Carey and McNamara said.

Carey had wanted a new partner to replace — at least in strict business terms — his cofounder Wajih Abed, who died of cancer in 2017.

“It was just a really great opportunity to buy into a bar that I love,” said McNamara, 47, who grew up in Oreland, Montgomery County. When offered the chance, “I’d have been a fool to say no.”

McNamara and Carey insist that changes are not in the works. “Fergie knows his brand,” McNamara said.

>>READ MORE: A history of Fergie’s Pub

Carey added that the bar had just signed a new, 10-year lease.

Abed (who had bartended at the old Bookbinders Seafood House) and Carey (a former bartender at McGlinchey’s) opened Fergie’s, at 1214 Sansom St., on Nov. 28, 1994, after modestly refurbishing the longtime German restaurant Hoffman House, which had sank into dive-bar status.

McNamara said he has been with Fergie’s “almost 24 years,” prompting the puckish Carey to chime in, “minus time off for good behavior.”

This post has been updated to reflect Rebecca Strapp’s ownership stake, which had not been disclosed during the reporting.