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ICYMI: After 32 years, the Shakespeare Arms is getting a new owner

Terry Chuchmach's last day is Feb. 29, but new owner to keep Shakespeare Arms name
Terry Chuchmach, the owner of Shakespeare Arms British pub, is retiring at the end of the month.

This article was previously published on GuelphToday

After more than three decades, the man they call ‘Chuch’ is calling it quits.

Terry Chuchmach has made the call to sell the Shakespeare Arms pub on Harvard Road, and is heading into retirement. 

“The last couple years, my health hasn’t been the best,” the 76-year-old owner said. “I think it’s better to leave on a high note than on a low note.”

Chuchmach’s last day is Feb. 29, ending a 32-year tenure at the British pub, formerly known as Animal House. Before that, it was known as the Duke of Grafton.

“When I got here and went down to the local pubs, someone said to me ‘I’ll be out of here in six months.’ You won’t last six (to) nine months,” he said. “I said okay, we’ll see what happens.”

He did, with the goal of just having a place for people to relax, have a beverage or snacks and engage in conversation.

Chuchmach made it a point not to have a TV behind the bar, so those sitting at the wood wouldn’t focus on the screen, but to those around them.

And 32 years later, he’s happy with the kinship that has developed between staff and patrons, from all walks of life.

“My thought was you come in as a stranger, you leave as a friend,” Chuchmach said. “It’s worked out, there’s been so many people who have got together here.”

He’s hoping that tradition continues, as the taps aren’t being turned off. The new owner, who take over March 1, plans to keep the Shakespeare Arms name.

Chuchmach said the new owner runs a number of successful pubs across southwestern Ontario, notably Piper Arms in Waterloo and The Courtyard in Courtice.

“This is a young person’s business now,” he said.

“You gotta be here all the time, and I just can’t be here all the time anymore.”

What will he miss most?

“I don’t really say I got customers, I say I got a lot of friends,” Chuchmach said. “That’s, in a nutshell, what I’m going to miss the most, is not coming in and talking to everybody here.”

He said he’s had a lot of good fortune over his time as a business owner, and if he had to do it all over again, he would.

“I just would like to thank everybody in Guelph here for accepting me and my family,” Chuchmach said. “They really responded well to my whole family. My grand kids were born here, they were in here, my daughter, my son, we all enjoyed the pub.”

After Feb. 29, the plan is to do nothing for a bit. But he admits he’s going to have to find something to do sooner or later.

“I’m going to be going crazy if I just do nothing,” Chuchmach said. “Maybe I can get a job as a marshall at a golf course.”