Unique replaces Egan’s Bar on the Strip, hopes to attract diverse crowd

Grace Schepis | @GraceSchepisCW, Staff Reporter

This story was updated on Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. to reflect a change to the grand opening schedule. Unique’s grand opening will now begin on Wednesday, Aug. 25. 

Unique, a new bar on the corner of Red Drew Avenue and University Boulevard, will host its grand opening from Wednesday, Aug. 25 to Saturday, Aug. 28. 

After 42 years of thick smoke, dim lights and loud music, Egan’s Bar closed its doors on the Strip in late July. Mike McWhirter, the owner since 2018, handed over the Tuscaloosa relic to new owners Chris Coleman and Mac Maddox. 

Bo Hicks, a 41-year-old who grew up in rural Tuscaloosa county, worked at Egan’s for a four-year stretch during the early 2000s. From tending the bar to playing with established Alabama bands at the venue, Hicks said he’s sad to see the bar go and is weary of the evolving culture of Strip establishments. 

“When I started going there it was a little bit of a more diverse crowd,” Hicks said. “English professors and punk rock kids. You know, it was decidedly not a Greek establishment. I mean, it almost had the lore of being like a haunted mansion to that crew, but there were a lot of artistic people there and people in bands.”

Hicks went on to meet renowned artists like the Alabama Shakes and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell thanks to his involvement with Egan’s. The musical aspect of Egan’s was inseparable from its establishment as a bar, and Hicks said there was nothing else like it. 

“It was the people you would meet there and the fact that it was a sort of DIY music venue, and, for lack of a better term, a sh—y dive bar,” Hicks said. 

While the Strip is no longer Hicks’ scene, he said he hopes that Unique will be a welcoming environment for all types of UA students and Tuscaloosa residents. 

Chris Coleman, one of Unique’s owners, is ready to get rolling on just that. Coleman has worked his way from the kitchen to the front office at various spots around Tuscaloosa. He’s familiar with the typical crowd at Egan’s, but Coleman said he can’t predict who will show up at Unique. 

“As far as the clientele that comes in — and I’ve been asked this a million times — I mean nobody RSVPs,” Coleman said. “We’ll see who shows up.” 

Coleman doesn’t anticipate major renovations until after football season. Along with a fresh coat of white paint and a new sign above the door, he’ll make adjustments to fit the new aesthetic inside. 

Coleman may hire new staff members as the semester progresses, but everyone from Egan’s was asked to stick around the new establishment. 

Unique will be open Tuesday, Aug. 24 to all patrons 21 and older.