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Kitty O’Shea’s Closing Following Legal Battle

by ARLnow.com August 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm 14,974 109 Comments

Kitty O’Shea’s, the unpretentious Irish pub at 2403 Wilson Boulevard in Courthouse, will be closing this weekend, according to a note on the pub’s web site.

“Saturday, August 27, is our last day of operation,” the note says. “Feel free to express your displeasure with Schupp Companies – Park Street Development.”

Kitty O’Shea’s owner Danny McFadden has been engaged in a costly legal battle with his landlord, the Schupp Companies, over what McFadden says is an attempt to evict him so the property can be redeveloped. McFadden claims that he still has four more years on his lease, while landlord Ray Schupp says the lease ended in 2010.

“He’s been trying to force me out,” McFadden said in an interview last week. “I’ve spent hundreds of thousands fighting this case… I guess they think that I’m going to go away, that when my money runs out I’m going to close shop. As far as I’m concerned, my lease runs to 2015.”

When we talked last week, McFadden said he was appealing a court decision against him to the Virginia Supreme Court, with the hope that it would give him some additional time to look for a new space to lease in Arlington. Now, he says he’s being forced to move out despite the appeal. McFadden is considering transferring his employees to Murphy’s Law, a pub he owns in the Tenleytown neighborhood of D.C., while the appeal goes through the court system over the next 4-5 months.

Last year the state Supreme Court ruled against McFadden in his effort to appeal his eviction. McFadden said he was seeking a trial by a jury, but instead has been subject to early rulings by judges.

“I’ve asked for jury trials, I haven’t had a day in court,” he said. “Every case is a summary judgment for the landlord.”

It’s not clear what will replace Kitty O’Shea’s at this point. The entire block is currently subject to a rezoning request, which would convert it from a low-rise commercial zone to a higher density mixed-use residential zone. An earlier attempt by Schupp to rezone the block for use as a hotel was shot down in 2009.

County staff have voiced support for the current rezoning proposal, which would likely result in a new apartment complex being built on the site. But Schupp says that it could be 2-5 years before the necessary rezoning, financing and permitting process go through. In the meantime, he’s looking for a new business to lease the space on a short-term basis.

“We’re working with several concepts now,” he said. “We have nothing firmed up and no lease signed right now.”

In January, we reported that Schupp’s company had applied for a liquor license for “Wilson Tavern,” a potential replacement for Kitty O’Shea’s.

“I’m sorry it has come to this, I truly am,” Schupp said of the bitter legal battle between his company and McFadden. “I’ve never gone through anything like this before, and I hope to never go through anything like this again.”

We asked McFadden if the legal fight has been worth it, whether it would have just been easier to give in early on and seek a new lease somewhere else.

“Looking back, probably not,” McFadden said. “But if every small guy rolls over, then every landlord is going to do the exact same time.”

“I’ve been honest with everybody,” McFadden continued, in his thick Irish accent. “I’ve paid my bills, my taxes are paid… All I want is justice.”

As for the fate of Kitty O’Shea’s, McFadden says he will continue looking for a suitable space in which to re-open in Arlington, should his appeal fail to all him to move back in to the old location.

  • V Dizzle


    • Clarendude

      I see a partnership opportunity…

      Kitty O’Dremos …

  • who cares

    Closing time, One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer, Closing time, You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

  • Me

    Excellent. Just what I was thinking. More high rise apartment buildings.

    • Elle

      Right, thank goodness our elected County staff voiced support for it. Oh wait, what? They’re not elected? But they seem to be making so many decisions as though they represented our views. I’m so confused.

    • Patti

      I don’t get it. The owner of the property is in favor of it, the County staff are in favor of it, and the County Board approved it after accommodating concerns by the neighbors over building height adjacent to 16th Street and proximal to Key School.

      The restaurant management and lessee knew this was coming since 2010, and decided to fight it (unsuccessfully) rather than agreeing to lease space in the new hotel or seek out additional space. How could this process have been handled better by the County?

  • CW

    Listen, boys, I’ve got some very bad news. I’m gonna have to close down the bar.The Russians are buying up buildings all over the town, includin’ this one.

    F***! A**!

    And they’re not lettin’ me renew my lease.

    • billj

      Let me talk to my boss, maybe he can do something.

  • JamesE

    Opening next week, Cupcake Emporium

    • ChrisO

      For the love of God, please no more cupcake places or boutique ice cream shops in Arlington, or anywhere for that matter…

  • T

    He should look at some of the empty space in Shirlington. That area could use a good Irish pub, because Samuel Beckett’s is not a pub at all. I’d be there all the time.

  • othersideoftheriver

    I’ve never held a commercial lease before. Wouldn’t the agreement spell out cancellation policy?

    • CW

      If it’s anything like a residential lease, it’s 40 pages of telling you to bend over and take it because you waive any right to which you are entitled under the law by signing the document.

    • JerrySeinfeld

      It looks as thought it does have cancellation terms, and it sounds as though every court from here to Richmond has told Kitty it’s time to go. He just doesn’t like it?

  • me knobbly stick and green felt hat

    How exactly can an “Irish” bar in Courthouse, Arlington be “unpretentious” ?

    • novasteve

      It really isn’t pretentious. People don’t go there to show off that much. They go to drink. One of the few down to earth places remaining. Well, not anymore.

      • Bard

        It was that way until recently. The service has become completely miserable. Half the time they act like they want you to leave.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          I always found it sort of creepy.

          • Parker Lyons


  • ARLrez


  • Other than Summers (which I don’t particularly care for), I can’t think of another place to watch some real football Saturday mornings.

    • JamesE

      First Down

      • Brian Spence

        No, he meant REAL football (although the bartenders there do like soccer and will put it on).

        Until Danny gets a new place in Arlington, I guess it’s O’Sullivans or Four Courts.

        • JamesE

          I know what he meant, if you go in there saturday morning it will be on.

  • novasteve

    My ex girlfriend (she lives out of the area) and I went to 4 bars in arlington, and only O’Sullivans will still be open. Dremos = gone, Royal Lee = gone, Kitties = gone.. 3 of the 4 razed to the ground. Weird.

    • swanky pants

      Royal Lee! She must have been one classy broad!

      • novasteve

        See?See how snobby the people are here? We went there because we didn’t like snobby people, and to listen to karaoke, and they had good bar food. I’m sorry that you need to be seen at some rooftop type place

        • swanky pants

          don’t need to be seen anywhere – just don’t want to die from botulism poisoning

        • Brian Spence

          I totally agree novasteve.

        • Patti

          Technically, I’m afraid your comment suggests that it is indeed you that is the snob.

    • Tabby

      “She lives out of the area”

      No forwarding address.

      Not listed.

      Has had to delete all inclusion on stalker sites e.g. Spokeo

  • Lol

    Where will all the cokeheads go?

    • Patti

      Ironically, several of those “cokeheads” are the offspring of very wealthy, conservative real estate developers, and they can go wherever they please. 😉

  • blomster

    Meh. I still miss Joseph’s.

    • Lou


    • Captain Obvious




  • Andrew

    I’m so glad… we really need more luxury apartments and chain stores.

    • KalashniKEV

      LOL @ “Chain Stores.”

  • KalashniKEV

    Slummers is next!

    We’re tearing down the ghetto!

    • novasteve

      What do you m ean summers is next??

  • Squidward Tentacles

    I hope the Krusty Krab isn’t moving in

  • Hattie McDaniel

    Why on earth would you spend “hundreds of thousands” of dollars to try and stay where the landlord doesn’t want you? He should have used that money to move to another location and hire an attorney who knows how to read a commercial RE lease.

    • I’m sure that’s just a line. He is just making the point to his patrons that he’s fought it but it is time to give up the fight.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        Maybe it’s a line, maybe it’s not. It all depends on discovery. You get a few lawyers reading documents for minutiae, and that meter starts spinning rapidly. Appeals could multiply the initial trial figure.

        With a single lease at issue, it is hard to imagine how much discovery there could have been, but it seems to be a language interpretation issue, so all sorts of extraneous stuff could have been brought in.

        Anyway, it does sound initially like a high figure, but I long ago stopped being surprised by the ingeniousness of lawyers when it comes to billing.

        • Captain Obvious

          The case was appealed to the circuit court in February and Summary Judgment was filed less than a month later. I promise you, there was little to no discovery. The fact that a summary judgment motion was filed and granted that quickly in the circuit court makes clear that whatever the issue was, it was very clear-cut that the landlord’s position was legally correct.

          • ArlRez

            Or the landlord was filling lots of pockets of politicians…

          • Tinfoil Hat Merchant

            Thank you for your order. Your Deluxe Gamma and Beta Ray Deflectomicator should arrive within 7-10 business days.

          • Captain Obvious

            ArlRez, judges aren’t popularly elected in Virginia. And local politicians play no role in their selection.

    • novasteve

      Care to eleborate on what possible clause would allow for a LL to end a lease 4 years early without any breach on the part of the tenant? The LL can’t say “10 year term lease, unless I decide to make it shorter” as the promise is illusory.

      • Novanglus

        There could have been a clause triggered by the sale of the building. Schupp bought the block a few years ago from the family that owned the litho shop next door.

        • CW

          That could very well be. I believe in my residential lease it states that, after a transfer of ownership, the new owner can do whatever the hell they want.

      • AllenB

        Whatever was in the lease, every court up the chain has agreed with the landlord. Must have been pretty clear cut.

  • I know commercial real estate leases. Its very difficult to invalidate a reasonably written lease. Kitty’s had a lease with the original owner of the property before Schupp purchased the entire block. That property owner purchased the properties with the intent to develop…but under every normal basis he would have had to wait out the existence of Kitty’s lease or he would have renegotiated with a demolition buyout clause. I don’t know the specifics of this lease issue, but it is incredibly rare and difficult to invalidate a lease.

    The property owner has pulled a fast one, and must have some powerful sway with his attorney’s and the court system. Its a one in a million situation. I wouldn’t want to do a deal with that landlord. I wouldn’t want to be one of his tenants. It looks to me like he pulled a fast one behind closed doors.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      I didn’t read it as having been invalidated. If I were guessing, as I’m wont to do, I’d say there was an out of some sort that is being exercised by the LL. The only other possibility is that the TT violated a material term of the lease.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        Ahh. Reading comprehension is key. My bad. TT claims he’s got 4 more years on the lease, LL says lease ended 2010. So a more educated guess is that there was a 5-year extension option. TT is arguing that it was by right, LL says it wasn’t solely at the TT’s option and that LL chose not to extend it. All courts have agreed with LL’s reading.

        But again, I’m just forcibly extracting this conclusion from my posterior.

        • Yes, it’s my understanding that a lease extension was involved.

  • Novanglus

    That’s the same scumlord who kicked a bunch of small businesses out of a Virginia Square strip mall to shoehorn in a Staples with a poor store layout and a stupefyingly bad traffic plan. (the Staples could have moved into the first floor of any number of nearby office buildings)

    McFadden may have misread his lease (I don’t know, but the courts seem to think so). But Schupp is definitely bad news. The neighborhood should not trust a single promise he makes for that property.

    • drax

      My vague understanding is that the Staples location is only temporary until it occupies a nearby office building, perhaps one of the ones being built at its old location.

  • Chris

    To quote the great Dr. Hibbert, “Fire, and lots of it.”

  • CH

    We shoudl all flood this line and tell Schupp Companies they suck..


  • Sulco

    He may have missed his option…

  • (another) Greg

    I know where there’s an empty building that used to house an unfinished furniture store on Columbia Pike.

  • I just feel bad for all the professional bar flies who hang out there. it’s a sad day for “doc” and “declan” :o(

  • CB

    I honestly can’t believe several courts including the Supreme Court would keep ruling in favor of the Landlord if he was just a scumbag keeping the little guy down. I think Kittys is pulling a last ditch media attempt to give this guy a bad rap & make as much as he can before its closing time permanently for him.

  • Kitty’s is not media active or media oriented. If Danny was he could have addressed this a long time ago in this and other media.

    Ha…on face value who would people support, a bar operator, who is friendly or a landlord who likes to sit in the backroom and count his bucks. The landlord has been working to get this lease overturned a long long time. There is truly something fishy there as getting a lease overturned is extremely rare….and Danny did get good knowledgeable legal assistance.

    Its highly unprecedented and down right sneaky.

  • Hooray

    I’m not gonna lie, that place was kind-of a s— hole anyway. I feel no empathy, and I doubt that the landlord “pulled a fast one” behind closed doors…what closed doors?! The supreme court? Gimme a break, chill with the conspiracy theories and just go to one of the other 80 bars on that street

  • MC

    Happy to see this dump leave Court House What a tacky bamboo fence they had on the sidewalk.

    • Kurt

      You’re right, Courthouse needs more pretentious places where overpriviledged twentysomethings can pay $20 for a drink.

      • Maria

        Please tell me where you’re paying anywhere near $20 for a drink in Courthouse.

    • Steve

      OMG, some people who go there didn’t even go to graduate school! It can’t close soon enough!

      People like you are why I hate arlington.

      • drax

        Who said that?

    • The idiotic comment of the day. Congrats!

    • Patti

      But where will guys like Kurt and Steve take cheap dates? Do they have what it takes to be competitive with the presumably upscale yuppies they fear at Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill, the Qurterdeck, G-Hut, or Whitlows? Perhaps they’ll have to go the whole way down to LA Bar and Grill on the Pike to be able to confidently tell their sweetie, “Order anything on the menu, babe.” Just kidding, this was more fun than rolling my eyes.

  • smoke_jaguar4

    Vote for what you think will occupy the vacant space:
    [ ] Applebee’s
    [ ] Bennigan’s
    [ ] Carlos O’Murphy’s
    [ ] Chotchkie’s (don’t forget you flair!)
    [ ] Some other soulless, craptastic, corporate, pseudo-Irish “themed” gastropub with all the authenticity of a box of Lucky Charms.

  • Richard Cranium

    I like the last option. As entertainment, every hour on the hour you could have Tim Geithner jump out and shout “It’s Magically Delicious!!’

  • Blur

    That place is such a dump. Good riddance. The only place where the servers are ruder is Fireworks.

    • steve

      You must have been a drunk jerk.

  • dan

    very sad to hear this, always a chill place, loved the outside seating, very friendly bar.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    So no one cares about the part where the County Board/Staff seems inclined to allow “REZONING” to allow more density – I just don’t know where this stops – and thereby encouraging another loss of a long standing small buisness in Arlington.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Genuinely curious – at what point is a “small business” that experiences growth and expansion considered to be villifiable? Do you have to remain a single store to be a “small business”? Is a business supposed to grow and possibly expand into multiple locations?

      Is the Ray’s chain of restaurants still a “small business”? If a single-store entity drives another single-store entity out of business through superior competitive practices is that something to be lauded or decried?

      Where is the line between Joe’s hardware and Walmart?

      Furthermore, is it inherently evil for an owner of real estate to want to maximize it’s value? If someone owns a property and can redevelop it into something more valuable, why should they not do so (assuming they do it legally)?
      I keep reading about big bad guys driving out small businesses

      • CW

        I always wonder that myself, especially with restaurants. Some places get villified, while others like Seasons 52 seem to escape this categorization as an evil “chain”. Did you know that Bourbon Steak is a chain? I bet a lot of people that hold the place in high regard don’t.

        I never understood the “chains are evil” thing. It’s not like God made them a chain, *poof*, here are 1000 locations! If they got there, it means they were doing something RIGHT!!

        • Brian Spence

          Because chains aren’t run by people who love that restaurant. I’d much rather give my money to someone who has a real stake in the restaurant than someone bean counter somewhere who’s never worked in a kitchen or poured a beer.

          • TheReasonWhy

            Another thing, especially with restaurants is the uniqueness. This varies in degree whether it is a single, a very local chain, regional chain etc.

            Living in this area, I get lots of visitors – family and friends. It is nice to be able to take them somewhere they can’t go wherever they live. A few month ago, for example had a friend – Outback was the only steak place near where they lived and they like it so they asked if we could go to “Outback” – meaning get a steak. I was able to say, sure we could, or we could try this place Ray’s which might be a little different. They weren’t convinced “we really like Outback”. But, we did Ray’s and they loved it “I wish we had one of these where we live” they said.

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            But if they did, wouldn’t that make it a chain?

          • TheReasonWhy

            Exactly !

            Actually another good example is Five Guys. In the past, I might take someone from out of town to Five Guys because generally it was something they can’t get. Now, they are everywhere. So, maybe if there were no other good choices I’d take them to a place like that but we have numerous choices that aren’t found widely (e.g Winkys, Ray’s Hell etc) so I think I’d rather take them there.

          • drax

            Franchises are often run by the same people who actually own them, daily, and their employees certainly have a stake in the restaurant because it employs them. Your logic fails.

  • anonguy

    Arlington’s redevelopment has been a national case study- most people whining about the loss of such dives would probably not find the current Clarendon all that appealing any way.

    • All I know is…. I could go to Five Guys and get a burger and fries for what….$10, $12. $15? Thursday at Kittys I’d get a burger and fries for $5. I could watch a game while I ate and not have to be bothered by some DB in flip flops. Sad to see it go.

      • SomeGuy

        Do DBs in flip flops take specific action to bother you? Or do they bother you simply because they are present?

        And is it the flip flops or the DB behavior that upsets you? Those are not one in the same.

        • True. Not one in the same. Usually I ignore DBs. I tend to also ignore folks in flip flops, because they are not really my generation. But, DBs in flip flops really bother me. So, I guess you need to be both to be on OB’s sh*tli*t.

      • novasteve

        But not it can become a Froyo or cupcake place!

      • Southeast Jerome

        $10 for a burger & fries at 5 guys???

        I think its more like $6.50.

  • I got that PMA

    whining? I guess you are happy to see Arlington become soulless. We can all go shop at WalMart and then have lunch at Applebee’s! F*ck yeah!!!! ‘merica!

    • MickeyInArl

      “…’Become’ souless…”

      Them horses left the barn a while back.

      Clarendon Village is Zombie Central, if you haven’t noticed.

  • pon

    East Falls Church welcomes you! a boat load of under-served peeps in this neighborhood would love if you took the retail spot at the new Crescent apts building… 2121 n westmoreland st, 22213

    no competition!

    • Pedro

      YESSSSSS. And that damn Cajun Seafood restaurant has done zero work to get started. Need Thai restaurant and Irish bar, stat.

  • ArlRez

    This is so sad…my local watering hole is gonna be gone…

  • meg

    kitty’s is my favorite neighborhood bar. i’m so upset. not to mention, where will doc go????!!!

  • mike

    this is terrible news. when i moved here from chicago this was the only place that gave me the neighborhood irish pub vibe found in all of the neighborhood pubs of chicago. a total dive, good people, cold beer, and great food.

  • anonguy

    WalMart..Applebees…in what universe are these these comparable to the retail/restaurants moving into Clarendon and Courthouse…

    why should landlords subsidize cheap rents for establishments that no longer match up with the demographics of their neighborhoods…grow up…

  • Ralph

    Not to be flip but . . .


  • Sparlington

    Not for nothing, but this isn’t Danny’s first go ’round with a lease and fighting longer than he should. He was the part owner of another bar too, and while I don’t have first hand account with how it was settled, he held out way too long before he held up his end of the bargain. My guess is that this story is not fully told.

  • Pedro

    Yes, North Arlington has about zero character anymore. Lots of generic gourmet this, fusion that type places. How does that public shoe store near spider kelly’s and the ballroom stay open? In any event there are still plenty of low key bars where construction workers, pipe fitters, GS-11’s and other proletarians can hang out:

    1. RV’s
    2. Thirsty Bernie’s
    3. The Forest Inn
    4. Cowboy Cafe

    Actually, I think that may be the entire list.

    • don’t forget Jay’s Saloon!

  • Bradley

    Danny Mcfadden lost his legal battle after likely showing up drunk and yelling that where losing to much money to his lawyer

  • Susan

    We pay a s-ton of money to live in Arlington and can afford to drink wherever we want. So what? Get over it or move out of Arlington.

    Why would I want to keep this creepy, dark, damp bar? I’ll happily spend another $10 per drink at any other bar to avoid all the weirdos at McFaddens.

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