Las Vegas’ Cheers Bar to close Sunday

The UNLV area will have a little less cheer after Sunday.

Cheers Bar, which for decades has been at 1220 E. Harmon Ave., just east of Maryland Parkway, will close its doors that evening with the retirement of owner John McCarthy.

“I think the building in 1979 was a Mongolian barbecue,” said McCarthy, who added that he thinks it became a bar around 1981; he bought it from a private party in 1985.

The name “Cheers,” he said, came about in the late ’80s to early ’90s, which makes it contemporaneous with the bar-based “Cheers” TV show, which ran from 1982 to 1993. The original Las Vegas Cheers, he said, was at Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road, in a shopping center that burned down.

“That’s when the bar moved down here,” said McCarthy, who had another bar, Pub Bar & Liquors, at Torrey Pines Drive and Charleston Boulevard until eight or 10 years ago, and owned a service station before that.

“I haven’t worked for anybody in a long, long time,” he said.

While it would seem that a bar so close to the university would be a student hangout, McCarthy said that wasn’t really the case.

“The only trouble with having all students is every year you have to recruit new customers,” he said. “Freshmen and sophomores are too young to drink; you might get them for part of their junior year and their senior year, and then they scatter when they get jobs.”

Most of the clientele, he said, is in their 30s and 40s, and has formed 13 pool teams.

McCarthy’s wife, Karen, retired from the City of Henderson in July, and they plan to spend some time caring for granddaughters Harper, 2½, and Sawyer, 7 weeks.

He said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen to Cheers; because of changes in the law, “nobody else can bring a license in here without rebuilding the whole bar.”

Cheers will go out in style, though, with a retirement party at 4 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ll be busy Friday and Saturday,” he said. “We have little events, and we’re selling a lot of the memorabilia out of the bar, the signs and things of that nature.”

So, will it be tough for McCarthy to say goodbye?

“After 20 years,” he said, “I’ve had enough of it.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Find more of her stories at, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.






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