Friends, family help Harrises move from Red Dog
VIRGINIA CITY — Friends and family helped Richard and Mary Harris take the last of their memorabilia from the Red Dog Saloon Thursday, much of it to be stored at Virginia City’s old freight depot.
The doors of the Red Dog Saloon and Manhattan Pizza Parlor on C Street closed for good Thursday. The Harrises, who ran the business for about seven years, announced last month they were closing the legendary saloon because of rising overhead costs.
A farewell party was held Saturday for the Harrises at the saloon.
Mary Harris said they may be out of the building, but they aren’t giving up, although their future in business is uncertain.
“We’re in a holding pattern. We aren’t done,” she said this week. “What’s so amazing is the people here right now. The place is packed with musicians, trying to help. We can’t give up for their sake, but we couldn’t afford it here. The rent was killing us, and it cost $500 a week, just to keep it warm.”
The couple’s house is for sale, and they plan to travel before settling down again.
“We’re going to take a couple of months off to get our lives in order and decide which direction we want to go,” she said. “But this is sad. Leaving this building is so hard. It’s like my baby.”
Mary Harris said they want to write a book about their experiences in trying to keep the spirit alive.
The Red Dog was a symbol of the flower-child counterculture of the 1960s. Its signficance was described in a February 1976 article in Rolling Stone magazine:
“The San Francisco scene started at the Red Dog Saloon, as much as you can say it started at any one place. Most of the elements were there: rock ‘n’ roll, a sort of light show, the first psychedelic light poster, the theatrical lifestyle and acid. Lots of acid.”