BENNINGTON -- Ryan's Pub, a popular downtown bar at 712 Main St., closed its doors for good at the beginning of this month.
The bar, owned by Richard Wheeler since October 2008, officially closed on Saturday, Dec. 7, according to the business' Facebook page.
Attempts to contact Wheeler were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday, however, Wheeler's girlfriend Amanda Realmunto said that Wheeler's decision to close his establishment was one he'd been considering for about six months, and was based on a number of different factors.
"Over the past year, business had slowly declined," she said, explaining that when Doug's On Main Street, a downtown bar, was shut down earlier in the year, there was a small boost in business, but not one significant enough to justify remaining open. "Weekends were steady, but during the week it was really slow. Over time, the overhead was quite a bit and it wasn't profitable anymore, so he decided to close."
Realmunto said stress was also a contributing factor in Wheeler's decision to close the bar.
"There were certain patrons that came in and always caused trouble -- they had to be kicked out and sometimes kicked out for good," she said. "They made it uncomfortable for a lot of the regulars that would come in and that really put a strain on Rick. He weighed the pros and cons of closing for a while and finally decided this is what he needed to do."
In the days following the closure, the bar received plenty of support from patrons on its Facebook page.
"So sorry to hear (about your closing)," Deborah Galusha posted. "Thank you, Rick, for all you have done for the community and for me Good luck in what ever you do."
"Really not happy to hear you are closing," Bertha Clayton wrote. "I've had some really great nights there."
Realmunto said she herself was disappointed to see yet another Main Street bar close its doors.
"I think people will really miss the open mic and karaoke nights," she said. "People were really followers of that."
Realmunto said Wheeler is adjusting to his new day-to-day schedule, even though it has already proven to be a bit challenging.
"It's kind of a shock for him," she said. "He basically worked there seven days a week for the past five years unless he was on vacation. It's definitely life-changing and a transition, but he is feeling good about his decision."
According to Realmunto, Wheeler is still residing in the Bennington area but the couple is considering a possible relocation to Florida this summer.
"Opening another bar is a possibility but not a definite as of yet," she said.
A For Rent sign can be seen in the doorway of the 712 Main St. building. Realmunto said she and Wheeler are hopeful that it will one day house another bar.
"I know he's hoping that someone opens one there and I think the rest of the town is, too," she said. "There's not much nightlife left in Bennington now. It's kind of sad."
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.