The new Douglas Trading Post hopes to continue St. Patrick's Day celebrations

This past March 17 was the final St. Patrick's Day celebrations at the Douglas Tavern in the Ottawa Valley.

After 50 years, owner Terry and Evelyn McHale decided to retire and sell the Douglas, Ont. tavern. Now six months later, a new business has taken over the space.

The Douglas Trading Post, a mattress store and goods emporium, celebrated its grand opening Saturday. Owners Dan Peters and Amanda Todd welcomed the McHales back and treated their customers to discounts. However, before setting up shop, the pair knew there were lofty expectations moving in.

"The day we bought the tavern, the first day I came to look at it I honestly didn't even know it was a tavern," says Peters, originally from Smiths Falls. "But then we started researching, seeing the lines outside, the pictures and stuff, and thinking, wow! We better start getting ready to move into this community because we have a big, big pair of shoes to fill."

Saturday was the first time the McHales saw their former tavern in its new life.

"Quite a difference, a big difference, they've done a good job though," the couple told CTV News, who had a bittersweet goodbye in retirement. "It worried me badly that the tavern was going to close," said Terry, "It would just close and be another empty place."

After a fresh coat of paint, the lights are on and the hall is now filled with mattresses, quirky signs, blankets, pillows, and other assorted goods.

"The bar was definitely set high," said Todd, about moving into the famous tavern. "But we're hoping to do everything we can to come into the community in a little bit of a different way, but the same kind of fun."

Keeping that fun was a big concern for the village of Douglas, who pride themselves on their annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations, ultimately climaxing at the tavern. However, the Douglas Trading Post's new owners say they are willing to swap their mattresses for tables and chairs every March 17.

"If there's a possibility of working with their family and doing something for St. Patty's Day, it takes us about 15 minutes with four guys and those beds are gone," said an eager Peters. "We put tables down and we might be able to do something like that. That's the hope."

"I think they're still looking for a community spot," adds Todd, "Where everybody can come in and get together."

With shamrock cut outs still left up on the wall, it's safe to say that if Peters and Todd didn't know what they were getting themselves into, they're ready to embrace it now.

"We could never be what Terry and Evelyn have been obviously, they're amazing," says Todd. "But we can still get actively involved in the community and keep this place open for many years to come."