Iconic Richmond bar ‘The Family Dog’ will reopen for one night after 22 years

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) – If you’re 35 or older, chances are you’ve heard of a bar in downtown Richmond or visited it during your college years, known under the name Family Dog.

It has been closed for 22 years. But for one night only on Friday night, the iconic “Dog” will be open for EKU’s homecoming festivities so the oldies can reminisce and laugh about the good old days.

“It’s going to be a big blast from the past when people come back here,” said Morgan Varney, daughter of one of the owners. “That’s what excites me the most.”

Morgan Varney’s mother, Jean Robinson, is co-owner of the Family Dog. Robinson and her husband opened the bar, restaurant and club in 1974. She tells us it closed so they could take care of their families. She says good employees have helped her stay open all these years, leading to her legacy.

“We hired great staff and treated them well,” Robinson said.

26 years of entertaining college kids, mostly on a Thursday night, and your name is going around.

“We brought in people from Cincinnati, from Georgetown and a lot from the UK.”

The doors are locked for now, but Friday night the dog will wake up and greet the EKU alumni. When they enter, they can find their picture on the wall.

“You would think after 20 years it would die out, but people are excited to tell these stories,” Varney said.

Graduate Colonel Chadwick Clemons is back in town to reminisce about all the good times at the bar.

“It’s a lot of memories, a lot of people have a lot of stories that they could probably tell and a lot of things that they probably don’t remember until they left here,” Clemons said.

Memories made here don’t stay here. Many students and staff have met their spouses at this location.

“A lot of people have met their husbands,” Robinson said. “I met my husband at the Dog. I was playing pinball when someone introduced us.

For George Ridings, 80, he remembers playing in a band called The Maroons at the bar in the 1960s. He gets emotional just thinking of all the friends and good times he had at the bar. inside this building.

“Good memories,” Ridings said. “Yeah, your memories are what it’s all about.”

Another former student tells the owner he can’t wait for them to unlock the doors.

“He said ‘I can’t wait until Friday.’ He says if it looks like this when we closed the doors, I’m probably going to cry,” Varney said.

After Friday evening, the Dog will go back to sleep, and maybe one day he will come back to life.

The Family Dog opens its doors on Friday evening from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.