Huntsville dive bar the Thirsty Turtle closes – will it re-open?

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This photo was taken Wednesday night at the Thirsty Turtle’s last night open. (Carter May / Submitted)

The Thirsty Turtle has been a staple in the Huntsville bar scene for more than 20 years, but Wednesday, the popular dive bar closed its doors, but hopefully not for the last time.

The closure is said to be temporary, and those Huntsvillians who have enjoyed the ambiance and charm of the bar and grill certainly hope that’s true.

A Huntsville staple

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The Thirsty Turtle opened in 1990 and has been a staple in the Huntsville bar scene ever since. (Thirsty Turtle via Facebook)

The Thirsty Turtle was opened at Whitesburg Plaza in 1990 by Marilyn VerMeer and husband Leonard VerMeer. Since then, the establishment has built a loyal following of regular customers who come to enjoy a cold cocktail, some pretty tasty bar food, play some darts or listen to some music.

Sadly, Marilyn VerMeer died recently at the age of 73, and her daughter, Deanna Wolf, told AL.com Thursday that all of the licenses for the business were in her mother’s name and will need to be re-issued. This prompted the bar’s recent closure.

“Because the liquor license was in my mother’s name, it can’t be honored by the ABC Board because she’s no longer with us, so we can’t serve liquor. And if we can’t serve liquor, there’s really no point. People, they do go to The Turtle for food, but it’s not going to keep us afloat.”

Deanna Wolf in an AL.com interview

Wolf said three of the bar’s longtime employees — Sarah Richman, Chari Adams and Nikki Kromis — are forming an LLC so they can apply for the liquor license as a separate entity and Wolf can hand management of the bar over to them.

When will the Thirsty Turtle re-open?

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The Thirsty Turtle survived the pandemic, and will hopefully survive the passing of the bar’s longtime owner. (Thirsty Turtle via Facebook)

Wolf said there is no definite timetable for when the Thirsty Turtle will re-open. However, she did say the wheels are in motion and the licensing process should not take long.

This is good news to the hundreds of people who were on hand Wednesday night to bid their beloved watering hole a (hopefully) temporary farewell.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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