Longtime bar Conroy’s closes, but Murf’s Pub takes its place in west Lawrence

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Murf's Pub, located in the shopping center at 3115 W. Sixth St. that is next to the KLWN radio station, is shown in September 2021.

Paul Murrison traded in a job at private golf clubs in the Southwest, in part, for a Golden Tee machine on the back wall. No, this isn’t a story about video game addiction, but rather about a longtime bar and restaurant manager taking his shot at owning his own place.

“I couldn’t go to my grave without owning my own joint,” Murrison said.

So Murrison this month opened Murf’s Pub at 3115 W. Sixth St. But the new bar and grill does signal the demise of a longtime Lawrence offering. It has taken the place of Conroy’s Pub, which had been in operation for more than 25 years.

Murrison said Conroy’s owner, Tom Conroy, had put the place up for sale, and Murrison decided to jump at the opportunity to own a spot in a good west Lawrence location. He had returned to town a few years earlier after having run the food and beverage operations at a host of private golf clubs in Texas and Arizona.

Murf’s isn’t exactly the same vibe as a private golf club, although it does have the Golden Tee golf video game. (Warning: It wears me out because 90% of the places I play it won’t let me drive my golf cart.) But the atmosphere may be just as good or better than any club in Murrison’s book because he thinks it fills an important niche in town: a friendly neighborhood bar.

“We want to be a place that you can catch the game, hang out with some friends, have a cold beer, have a great burger,” Murrison said.

He said the establishment hopes to make inroads with the business crowd — the pub has a banquet room that seats about 50 for business meetings or other events — plus other Lawrence residents. In other words, the pub’s business plan isn’t centered on attracting a college crowd.

The pub is open for lunch every day. Its menu has plenty of bar food options, but it also has some more diner-esque offerings. There’s a fried catfish special on Fridays, a chicken fried steak special that runs weekly, and other such specials. The regular menu also includes one of the more popular dishes from Conroy’s. The sale included the recipe to Conroy’s pork tenderloin sandwich, which isn’t anything fancy but has a special house blend of seasonings that has a good following.

The menu also includes several types of hamburgers, a chicken sandwich and a smoked brisket sandwich. The appetizer or “Murf’s Munchies” section also is a big one with many of the standard offerings but some more unique ones like fried green tomatoes and fried green beans — both fried in an ale batter — and four types of quesadillas. One of those versions is called a Hillbilly, and it includes crispy chicken, pimento cheese and coleslaw with hot honey.

Then, there is something called Pig Wings. Think chicken wings, but instead the meat is an assortment of bone-in pork shanks. It comes with a choice of four sauces, just like a chicken wing.

The pub has a full bar, serving both beer and cocktails. The bar has seven beers on tap, including Guinness and Dunkel, in addition to the more standard offerings.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Murf’s Pub added a pool table and shuffleboard when it made the switch from Conroy’s Pub to its new ownership.

Murrison said he’s excited about the new venture. He grew up in Lawrence and was part of a family that was in the food business. An uncle ran the old Vaqueros Mexican restaurant that operated decades ago in the now-vacant building that more recently housed the Cadillac Ranch bar near Sixth and Crestline. Murrison said he knew he wanted to get into the business as well, and he studied hospitality, food service and management in college.

Upon returning to Lawrence, he said he’s been impressed with Lawrence’s bar and restaurant scene, but he thinks Murf’s can find a nice place in it.

“There are a lot of cool places in Lawrence, and we just want to be a small part of it and find our niche,” he said.


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