New Main Street Sports Bar, Restaurant Planned


The new owners of the Journigan House, most recently the home of Mad Dawg's and Mel's, plan to open a restaurant and sports bar very soon, according to Sue McIntyre, a member of the current ownership group that is selling the building.

"The sale is supposed to close in two weeks, and they want to open as quickly as possible," McIntyre said. "The lower half (of the building) where the fireplace is when you walk in will be a sports bar, and the old Journigan House itself will be fine dining."

Several restaurants have opened and closed in the building, which was built in 1925 -- an era when horse races and the Payson Rodeo were held on Main Street. The most recent occupant, Mad Dawg's and Mel's, lasted almost three years before closing recently.

Before Mad Dawg's, McIntyre's group operated the Mogollon Grille. She believes the new owners will be successful.

The new owners, who live in the Valley, are Melissa Worley and Mark Fanning. The Roundup was unable to reach them.

Mad Dawg's co-owner Melanie McCarthy said she tried to negotiate with the new owners to continue operating Mad Dawg's, but an agreement couldn't be reached.

McCarthy blamed the location for the high restaurant turnover rate at the Journigan House.

"The building itself is wonderful, but it's not on the main highway," she said. "If we'd been on (highways) 87 or 260 it would have been a different thing. That's part of the drawback of that place, and we knew it going in."

But McCarthy said Mad Dawg's was successful and the decision to close the doors was based solely on an inability to reach an agreement with the new owners.

With its large outdoor dining area and live music, Mad Dawg's became somewhat of a local gathering place, especially in the summer. McCarthy said it was fun while it lasted.

"We had a blast doing it, and the experience was amazing," she said. "I walked away with a lifetime experience and a good group of friends."

But they're leaving behind the ghosts that many -- Manchio and McCarthy included -- believe still occupy the old house.

After numerous and repeated sightings and encounters at the restaurant, an investigation in 2004 by the Missouri Ghost Hunters Society resulted in several encounters with spirits.

"I hope they're still OK," McCarthy said of the spirits she left behind. "They were getting very active at the end when we were getting our stuff out.

"We had lights going on and off all the time. The barstools we're moving ... I never knew going into this business that I'd start believing in ghosts."

McCarthy said she and co-owner Madeline Manchio will probably continue to do some catering.

"We don't know what either one of us is going to do," she said. "Neither one of us is moving out of town, and she and I are still the greatest of friends."

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