Pat Murphy, known to all as “Murf,” has seen a lot of changes since he began working at the Morris Inn as a busboy in 1967.
“During my first weekend on the job, Ronald Reagan and Pat O’Brien were seated at one of my tables,” says Murphy.
Murphy continued to bus tables until 1971, the entered the U.S. Army, stationed in Aberdeen, Md., as and M.P. He returned to the Morris Inn in 1977, where he parked cars, tended bar and provided vacation coverage in other positions. Since 1981, he has worked full time in Leahy’s Lounge.
On football Saturdays, Murphy would park as many as 200 cars in the Morris Inn lot and surrounding areas. He kept the keys on a huge ring, and would jockey the cars around during the game to accommodate those who needed to leave early.
“The same ones would come each game, and they would give me a heads-up if they had a new car so that I would recognize them. I did this for 10 years, and never lost a single key," Murphy says. He would be the parking lot attendant from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then come inside and tend bar until close, which could sometimes be as late as 2 a.m.
The original bar at the Morris Inn was located on the lower level. The rule in 1952, the year the Morris Inn got its first liquor license, was that bars had to be 1,000 feet away from a dormitory, as a dorm was considered an “educational building.”
The facility also needed to be considered a club. “Father (Edmund) Joyce put in a putting green outside the Morris Inn in 1952, and installed one locker downstairs, qualifying us as a ‘club,’" according to Murphy. The putting green stayed until 1993. “The last time it was used was during the Florida State game,” Murphy says. From 1952 until 1972, the current Leahy’s was a patio. In 1972, it opened in its present location.
“Before 1970, no women were allowed to sit at the bar, and no one was allowed to carry a drink except the bartender,” says Murphy.
Not only did Murphy carry the drinks, he also prepared and served food, as no menu was provided in the bar until 1996. “Several professors—we called them ‘dons’—lived in the dorms back then. They would come here in the evenings, and I would go back to the kitchen and make sandwiches for them.”
Over the years, Murphy has served and befriended numerous celebrities. “In 1987, all the Kennedys were here for the International Special Olympics, and they came in every day,” he says. Murphy has also served numerous national newscasters, including Harry Reasoner, Morley Safer, Charles Kuralt and Tim Russert.
Today, he has 50 to 60 “regulars” who come in at least once a week to visit with him and catch up on gossip. “It is pretty rare that someone tells me something I don’t already know," Murphy says with a smile.
He still takes good care of his regulars. Although Leahy’s is open until midnight, food is no longer available after 10 p.m. "People will call me from the road just before 10 p.m., saying they will be here by 10:15. I will place an order in the kitchen before it closes, and the food will be here waiting for them at 10:15.”