O’Leary’s in Downtown DeKalb Closing


O’Leary’s Ale House in Downtown DeKalb will be closing on November 17, announced owners, Mel and Debbie Witmer on Facebook today.

The Witmers will be retiring from O’Leary’s and residing full time in Henderson, Nevada. Debbie has already been living there and teaching 2nd grade at an elementary school in the Las Vegas area, while Mel has been commuting back and forth to DeKalb.

The Witmers have been in the restaurant business for 35 years, including ownership of Upper Deck Sports Bar & Grill and Tapa La Luna in DeKalb. They originally opened O’Leary’s in Dixon, IL in 2000. Mel Witmer had always wanted to open an Irish-themed pub because of his Irish roots and branded the establishment using his mother’s maiden name.

In 2004, they sold their Dixon location and opened O’Leary’s in DeKalb at the corner of Lincoln Highway and 3rd Street, across from The House Cafe. In 2011, the Witmers sold Upper Deck Sports Bar & Grill, which became Hometown Sports Bar and Grill. In 2012, they sold Tapa La Luna in order to focus on O’Leary’s.

In October of 2010, their former O’Leary’s location in Dixon, which was being run by new owners, burned to the ground in a grease fire. The Witmers faced tragedy of their own in 2014 when their 18-year-old daughter, Morgan, was a passenger in a serious car accident and almost died. The community rallied behind them and Morgan fortunately pulled through.

Here is the statement posted on O’Leary’s Facebook page today:

“After 35 years in the restaurant business the Witmers are retiring from O’Leary’s. We want to thank everyone for supporting us and being a part of our O’Leary’s family. We have loved being a part of the DeKalb community. We will be leaving with great memories of times shared with friends, customers who became friends, and employees who have touched our hearts.

“Our last day for business is Saturday, November 17th. Be sure to come visit us before we say goodbye.”


  1. The atmosphere and food there were pretty good but the prices were outrageous. You’d pay Olive Garden/steak house prices for a modest sandwich, handful of fries, cup of soup and soft drink. When my brother in law came into town and I offered to take him out to lunch at a place of his choosing I froze when he said O’Leary’s. It was like $50 or $60 for our two modest lunches.

    I will miss their awesome beer can collection though.

    • True story about their beer can collection. When I needed to raise some money to go back to school, I sold my beer can collection on ebay and shipped it off to someone.

      The first time I went to O’Leary’s, their beer can collection caught my attention because it seemed to be exactly the same as the one I sold, even including a few peculiarities.

      I had always meant to ask Mel where he got the beer cans from – whether he bought them off someone on ebay or it was just a weird coincidence that they had what seemed to be the exact same cans that were in my collection.

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