Scruff’s and Shorty’s join forces to overcome closure

Scruffy Murphy's has been closed since March due to COVID-19 and has teamed up with Shorty's Pizza Shack to raise funds. Brittney Matthews | Photo Editor

By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer

Local 18-and-up pub Scruffy Murphy’s is finding creative ways to stay afloat, including teaming up with Shorty’s Pizza Shack. The pub, locally known as “Scruff’s,” has been closed since March due to the pandemic.

After reopening briefly at the end of May, Scruff’s, located at 1226 Speight Ave. in Waco, was forced to shut its doors again on June 26 and is still closed. Unlike many shops and restaurants, COVID-19 regulations do not permit reopening at this time.

“It’s been awful,” Kevin McBride, general manager of Scruffy Murphy’s, said. “It’s been really really bad. It’s frustrating, because we are mainly just a nightclub/bar, so we can’t go along with a lot of the things people have been doing to get around.”

McBride, who often spends his time thinking of fun activities to host at Scruff’s, has turned his attention to brainstorming how to create revenue while closed. One of these ideas, he said, included getting together with Kyle Ferguson, Baylor alumnus and co-owner of Shorty’s Pizza Shack, to create merchandise to sell on Scruff’s new website.

“It all started with COVID,” Ferguson said. “Since the bars closed, they are not making any money, so [we] are trying to sell shirts. We are really just trying to help them out.”

The collaboration resulted in two new shirts available on the shop tab of their website. The first one depicts Scruffy and Shorty social distancing, while the other shows Scruff and Shorty riding sharks with the American flag as if they were a part of the upcoming election.

“We are people that don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Ferguson said. “Election year, people get pretty worked up, so this is our way of trying to lighten things up a little bit. You’ve got the Democratic ticket and the Republican ticket — we are the party ticket.”

The two local businesses are also in the process of getting permits that will allow Shorty’s pizza to be served at Scruff’s. Ferguson said he thinks this pairing will work well because the two companies compliment each other “like a hot dog and a bun.”

This phase of reopening is still in the works and will likely include food trucks as well, McBride said. They plan to follow all of the COVID-19 guidelines in order to reopen.

“We actually have a light at the end of the tunnel for being able to open again soon,” McBride said. “It will be a little different for the time being.”

In order to make this work, however, Scruff’s is hoping that the Waco community will participate. Orange County junior Ethan Moser, a marketing and supply chain management major, thinks that this collaboration will be successful.

“It’s great that they are looking for alternative ways to make money, and they need to stay open and afloat during this challenging time of COVID,” Moser said. “Everyone loves Shorty’s and Scruff’s so much that everyone would be very upset to see them go under. I think a lot of students will respond and support them.”

In addition to serving pizza, Scruff’s is cooking up another event: “The Inaugural Scruff’s Scramble” golf tournament. On Oct. 10, Keep Waco Beautiful is pairing with Scruff’s at the Lake Waco Country Club to put on a tournament.

Teams of four can enter to play and win prizes, companies can become sponsors and local vendors will be present. The money raised from this tournament will benefit the eight employees that run Scruff’s and have been out of work since the closure.

“This year we are doing it to benefit the staff at Scruff’s, but it’s our inaugural scramble,” McBride said. “In the future, we plan on doing tournaments for Keep Waco Beautiful and other charities around town.”

Not only does McBride hope to get the community involved, but he hopes that COVID-19 guidelines will be followed in order to get Scruff’s back open.

“We are not the ones to tell people not to party,” he said. “[But] everyone needs to follow the guidelines … otherwise Scruff’s will never get back to being Scruff’s again.”