Finnegan’s is closed…

By Duganz (Above photo courtesy of Alisia Duganz)

I’m heartbroken, and feeling at a loss for words right now. Finnegan’s was the first place in Missoula that I took ownership of. My friends and I spent sophomore year of college reclined in booths drinking coffee, perusing the spinning glass tank of pie, and telling jokes while trying to feel like we were adults–or maybe just cast members from Swingers, I can’t be sure.

I remember one night in particular where a table of us started quoting lines Office Space to each other, and half of the surrounding tables joined in while the others watched. “Lumbergh fucked her!” we screamed until they told us to get quiet or get walking. Those moments of strangers connecting are rare, and infrequent–like first snows, and first loves,.

There were waffle fries and drag queens the first night I hung out with Alisia, my wife. I thought she looked pretty. She thought I was funny.

A Twitter update from the Montana Kaimin announced the end to 23 years of business. I saw it and texted some friends. One immediately responded with a memory from the night of April 11th, 2008. He remembered how a group of us left the Union Club following a night of drink and dance, and wandered down to Finnegan’s for greasy food and black coffee. He asked if I was there (to his credit, he was quite drunk that night). I said, yeah, I was there.

That was the night that, among so many friendly faces and a crowd of merry folks fresh from last calls around town, I leaned over to Alisia and told her for the first time that I loved her. She replied in kind, and only months later I proposed. I’m not saying that Finnegan’s was the best place to eat, or be, or to woo a potential mate. But it was something special in the way that certain inanimate objects will always be special to us–like your first baseball glove, or car.

Tonight I sat in a car outside the restaurant while Alisia took photos of the barren, empty eatery. I watched the glass pie tank and the warm neon sign glow in the dimly lit storefront. And in the booths to the left, for just a moment, I saw friends shooting the shit, telling stories, and wondering when Gabe would bring us another carafe of his sorry excuse for coffee.

You want to lament the loss of Macy’s? Macy’s was a confusingly structured store with inadequate parking, and florescent lights. But Finnegan’s? That was something special.

  1. JC

    WTF???!!! Anybody know what happened?

    Last time I was in there (not long ago), I was meeting up with an old girlfriend from way too long ago (my first girlfriend in college). She was passing through town and suggested we meet there for lunch and shoot some bull. We sat and talked and laughed and thought out loud about how life might have turned out different, and how life has many unforeseen twists. It was both a moment of closure, and a moment of openings…

    Finnegans was one of those places you never felt like you couldn’t go to and be outrageous, because there was always some wild and crazy thing going on.

    Geez, the place will be sorely missed. Of course, maybe the water just froze up or something. Or the IRS showed up. The place was always busy.

  2. It’s long enough ago that I can’t even remember what it was called before Finnegan’s, but friends and I used to spend nearly all night there drinking coffee and talking about everything important and unimportant. There was a six month period of my life that I swear I spent more time there than I did at my apartment.

  3. Buzz Feedback

    Crushing. It was a Perkins when I was little.

  4. The Polish Wolf

    Man, that is really too bad. I’ve only been there once, but I imagine if I lived in Missoula I would have been there all the time. I’m sorry you lost a place with such memories for you.

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