I Love My Job: Chris Mullins Sr.

The McGillin's Old Ale House co-owner shares what it's like to run Philly's oldest continuously operating pub.

Mary Ellen Mullins and Chris Mullins Sr. with Vice President Joe Biden at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 27, 2016 during the DNC. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Mary Ellen Mullins and Chris Mullins Sr. with Vice President Joe Biden at McGillin’s Olde Ale House during the 2016 DNC. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Chris Mullins Sr. has been running the show at McGillin’s Old Ale House, the city’s oldest continuously operating tavern, for 23 years now along with his wife, Mary Ellen Mullins, whose father and uncle had owned the place since the late 1950s. He tells us what the best part of his job is, and what it’s like to work with family day in and day out.

I grew up in … Philadelphia. I’m Philly all the way. I went to St. Joe’s Prep and St. Joe’s for college.

Taps at the tavern started running in 1860, and since then we still … make it all about the beer and ale.

When Mayor Kenney stopped by last month he … came for a quick drink with his colleagues.

The best part about my job is … making people happy.

One of the toughest moments on the job is when … you have to terminate an employee. It’s never easy, but this job is too hard for some, and sometimes people change after hiring.

In ten years I see the business … growing as it has been growing. We have a succession plan. My son’s been here for ten years, and he’s part-owner now and will eventually take over in the future.

My favorite notable paraphernalia in the bar is … the Wanamaker sign first given to us by John Connors. It’s special because it’s the first retail sign we got.

I feel responsible for … continuing the tradition of making this place fun and comfortable as my father-in-law and uncle-in-law did before me.

Something most people don’t know about the business is … that it’s very detail-oriented. You have to stay focused on profit and loss. And you have to make a profit to keep and reward good managers.

A part of Philly I’d like to explore is … the top of City Hall. I’m ashamed to say this, but I’ve never been.

In 2017 I’m looking forward to … continued labor peace at the Convention Center. With the deals that have been made, people are coming back to Philly. And the large conventions in town have been instrumental during our down time.

The most entertaining regular here is … John Dihl. We call him Dancing John. He’s about 65 and bald. He’s been coming here every Friday night and Saturday for at least 10 years. He loves to dance to Michael Jackson.

The Mullins family by Thomas Robert Clarke Photography

The Mullins family by Thomas Robert Clarke Photography

When celebrities or athletes come here they … like to sing. The Flyers love to sing here after a road game. Jason Kelce from the Eagles and Matt Rhule have done karaoke here.

The notables come back because … people don’t bother them. They’re comfortable and safe here.

When I’m not at the tavern you can find me … with my grandchildren, in my garden, or at the Sporting Club working out to stay healthy.

The most popular beverage here is … beer! The most popular craft brew is the McGillin’s 1860 by Stoudt’s. The most popular beer by volume is Bud Light.

Working with family allows me to … see my family members every day. That’s the good part. The bad part is you don’t always get to enjoy each other when you’re not working. And in any business, there has to be some kind of conflict. If there’s no heat, there’s no fire.

An important change that’s affected McGillin’s in the recent past was … the growth of the craft brew movement.

The biggest transformation I’ve witnessed in the neighborhood is … safety. In 1993 the neighborhood was dark and daunting. But with all the restaurants and bars here now, we feed off of each other and it’s a safer, more fun neighborhood.

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