Recalling 40 Cent Drafts At Dolan’s, Vacant Building Hit By Fire

Update, video: If you wanted to know what Bridgeport was like in the 1940s, Dolan’s Bar and Grill at Middle and Golden Hill streets next to the Downtown post office was the spot. The interior never changed. And the place certainly hit the spot for an eclectic group of eccentrics, be it local drunk, newspaper reporter, postal worker, businessperson and the occasional prostitute who’d wander in for a peek in case patron curiosity was piqued back in the day when it was red-light district territory. But oh, those 40-cent drafts. The vacant building that housed Dolan’s was damaged by fire Monday night, according to fire officials.

Yes, the short drafts were under a buck, even when the place closed as Dolan’s in 1999. Every so often, after a departing customer had chugged entirely too much, it was possible they’d cross over Water Street and take an involuntary dip in the Pequonnock River. The place was wonderful fodder for newspaper scribes to test the political pulse of the city.

Outgoing city development chief David Kooris says the city controls the site and had envisioned it as a financial services tower as part of Downtown redevelopment plans. Kooris says the city had boarded up the building a few days ago, and considers it a likely contender for a redevelopment knock down.

Veteran local journalist Bob Fredericks has fond memories of the place for its steamed cheeseburgers, cheap draft beer and stop on the way to school at Fairfield Prep.

“Was also the bus stop for the second leg of my trip to Prep, one CRL bus from the East Side to Dolans, then a grey line to Prep. Bartender would give us Slim Jims and sodas if we brought the afternoon papers. Good times. That was the late ’60s.”

Steve Krauchick, of Doing It Local, was on the scene and shares this report:

‎Bridgeport Connecticut–Firefighters didn’t have far to go for the fire at Golden Hill and Middle Street. The smokey fire slowed traffic on Water Street that was just departing the UCONN game at the Arena. The firefighters were met with heavy fire on the second floor. When I arrived (within 15 minutes) the bulk of the fire was contained and they were breaking out windows to ventilate the structure which appeared to be under construction (the building to the left of the post office). Firefighters had the fire and hot spots out within the hour. The fire marshal was requested to the scene to investigate the cause.

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10 comments

    1. You post something like this and say no more. You and people like you are what’s wrong with Bridgeport. You see or hear something wrong but will not speak up. You just should have stayed off the blog.

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  1. Andy. I’ve been paying attention to Downtown North all these years. My commentary has to do with the lack of investigative journalism that abounds. I could write a book about it. In fact I did my thesis on causes of abandonment. Want me to send it to you?
    And I agree with Rodgerson.

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  2. Perhaps what Andy is saying is each of you get on the case and fill in where investigative journalism fails. Remember, it took the Boston Globe journalist five years to realize he had missed the story the first time he heard about it. How many were abused in that time period? How many felt safe in their predatory behavior because they saw what management was not going to do?

    Keith and Bob, aren’t each of you CC alumni? What about using your smarts to inform the public, directly and factually, what we are up against and do so on a regular basis? It’s funny to wake up one day and find providing more fiscal info about the City than the CT Post is able to, over a five-year period provides some satisfaction when people stop you and thank you for going to City meetings of all type, standing up to connect what is happening in the City fiscally and much of it not good news, but speaking the TRUTH to the power that runs Bridgeport. Slowly but surely, the missed opportunities and wasted resources are going to look totally out of place, and folks with a more whole sense of community can sit around the table, respectfully listen to each other, seek the assistance of those who have ability and are willing to use it for all of the people. It’s a dream, perhaps, but it calls to me and should be calling more people each year. Time will tell.

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  3. Great post, Keith!

    I think what happened at Dolan’s corner was the result of a slow spread of the same underground fire that hit the old train station and then the Top Stone Cigar factory some decades ago. (I believe an investigation determined that fire started from a burning Top Stone cigar in the train station that then spread to more cigars at the Top Stone building.) One would think after decades all the embers from those fires would have been cold and dead. But this is Bridgeport, fires die very slowly here.

    A financial services “tower” was planned for the site? That would certainly be a great thing to bring to Bridgeport, but isn’t there already an awful lot of appropriate vacant space downtown in which such an operation could be located? Do we know what financial services companies were involved with the city in the creation of this “financial services tower?” My suspicion is no “financial services tower” was ever planned for that site. I think Mr. Kooris inadvertently confused the terms “social services” and “financial services.” He must have been thinking about Stamford development projects when he was asked about the city’s involvement with the building.

    What would be a good thing, after the smoke clears from this fire, is if downtown development became a subject for a series of public meetings. Isn’t there a taxpayer-funded Downtown Special Services agency that is charged with seeing the interests of downtown commerce and development–and residential needs–are served? Maybe they can take a look at the administration of vacant properties in the downtown and come up with a plan to protect the public from the various hazards presented by these vacant properties. (Maybe they can even take a look at downtown development/downtown residential life and make a comment and suggestion or two on what can be done to enhance both aspects of the downtown condition. Maybe they could organize a series of forums to solicit the ideas of the Bridgeport public in this regard.)

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  4. Note to reporter, author, Juliano; They weren’t steamed cheeseburgers. They were made in an electric broiler. Dolan’s also featured the train schedule to New York.

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    1. Alright Grin, whereinhell CAN you get a steamed cheeseburger around here? The only place I know of is O’Rourke’s in Middletown and years ago there was a bar in Meriden I don’t remember the name of, and so don’t even know if it’s still there.

      Also paging Steve Auerbach, you’re all about the food. Do you know? Does anyone?

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