WACO, Texas: Scruffy Murphy’s (colloquially known as just “Scruff’s”) is normally one of the most popular bars in town on a Saturday night, especially after a Baylor Bears victory. Without being able to serve a drink for two months, however, their hustle has changed.
Scruff’s is a nightclub that only serves drinks, so they haven’t been able to offer anything since they were forced to close their doors on St. Patrick’s Day.
General manager Kevin McBride has worked behind the bar and behind the scenes at Scruff’s for eight years now. He sees Scruff’s as more than just a dive bar.
“It’s just a magical place,” McBride said.
After providing magical memories for Baylor students and locals alike for nearly 30 years, they’re using that magic to stay afloat.
For the first time in their history, they created their own website, primarily for selling merchandise, many of which includes the “Scruff’s is Magic” hashtag. With the bar still being closed, they say it’s their source for new income.
“We’ve actually made a couple shirts and then we’ve created a whole website just to sell our t-shirts, something that Scruff’s has never really had,” McBride said. “[We] first started off selling the merchandise we already had and now we’ve gone on to selling all brand new stuff.”
Two of the pool tables inside the bar are filled with hundreds of t-shirts, some retreads like the annual senior class shirt and some with fresher designs that haven’t been bought out yet. They have teamed up with another local student favorite, Shorty’s Pizza Shack, to collaborate on shirt ideas.
“With them being limited so they can’t open, whenever they got shut down at the bar, they couldn’t do anything so it was really cool for them to start doing the merch like Kevin [McBride] did,” Shorty’s general manager Christopher Salazar said. “If they already have a Scruff’s t-shirt, they don’t have a Scruff’s and Shorty’s t-shirt, so hey you always gotta have another t-shirt.”
This upcoming week is usually the biggest on the Scruff’s calendar – senior week. In fact, some students have made the dive a part of their fabled traditions.
“It’s called a ‘Scruff’s streak’ and, for some reason, they want to go from the Sunday before graduation all the way up to graduation and come in seven days a week,” McBride said. “We started noticing how big of a deal that was for kids to walk across stage with seven Scruff’s wristbands on their wrist, it just seemed like a really fun accomplishment for students.”
Those at Scruff’s admit they aren’t the only local small business struggling during the COVID-induced shutdowns. When they do open again, they plan to do so in a big way.
“We want everyone to stay safe, that’s the most important thing,” McBride said. “Once we can get back going, we’ll make sure to throw a hell of a party.”
You can find all of the Scruff’s merchandise on their website.