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Pudge's: a Hudson legend reborn

The two porches at Pudge's have been drawing a lot of attention from the public, anxious to see the changes inside. The project, two years in the making, is nearing completion with the restaurant, Club 304, opening soon.1 / 7
Wherever possible, the Murphys have preserved pieces of Pudge's and incorporated them into the rennovation, like the iconic Pudge's sign.2 / 7
The attention to detail is everywhere you look in Pudge's rennovation. The brass work leading to the off sale liquor store was salvaged from Grand Central Station in New York City.3 / 7
The transformation of Pudge's in downtown Hudson has been a labor or love for owners Michael and Candy Murphy, left, and designer and native son Ed Hawksford. Pudge's was built in 1866 and has been a “saloon” for most of that time. The tradition continues with a tasteful addition nearing completion. Club 304 is expected to open in early February. (photos by Meg Heaton)4 / 7
Michael Murphy is anxious for the public to see what Pudge's has become. This fireplace with a mantle from re-purposed wood and columns from Tibet is just one example of many patrons will enjoy.5 / 7
Candy Murphy found the perfect spot for this relief piece she has had for years. It adorns the door to her husband's new and improved office.6 / 7
Ed Hawksford has a stash of rescued treasures like this piece from Tibet that has become the upstairs bar in the new Pudge's. The space also includes pool and game tables and an outdoor deck.7 / 7

If you think you know Pudge's, think again.

Built in 1866, 302 Second St. has been a saloon for most of the time since, according to owners Michael and Candy Murphy. They say they used to make wine in the basement and roll fine cigars right next door at 304 Second St., and even though there are some major changes afoot, Pudge's tradition of serving food and drink in downtown Hudson will continue.

The Murphys, with the help of Hudson native and nationally known designer and collector Ed Hawksford, have taken that tradition and enlarged it to be a one-of-a-kind destination.

The Murphys have owned Pudge's since 1992. They weren't sure they wanted to own a bar given the hard work and long hours. But when Michael's daughter was accepted at Dartmouth College, the investment looked more attractive and they took the leap. They bought the building next door in 1994.

They have been thinking about the renovation for years and the timing was finally right.

"So much has been done to these buildings over 150 years. We wanted to let the building out — take away what has been covered up and bring it back to something special again," Michael said.

And that is what they have done. The iron columns on the outside are part of the history of the building as are the horse tiles outfront. Hawksford helped them find other hidden treasures and found ways to reuse or repurpose not just pieces of Pudge's, but finds from Tibet to the Murphy's backyard.

Hawksford found what has become the upstairs back bar, more than 100 years old, in Tibet along with some columns that adorn the upstairs fireplace. The bar on the main floor was built from wood Michael ran across while searching for a antique bar. And part of that bar is made from walnut salvaged from a dead tree in the couple's backyard.

While regulars will recognize what is now called Pudge's Saloon and Eatery, there is so much more to experience.

On the south side are two porches, one up and one down, that extend the fun outside with some attractive ironwork and a colorful paint job. Some people believe it looks a little like something you might find in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

You can access the new restaurant, Club 304, either through Pudge's or through its own entrance and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner seven days a week. The only completely new construction on the project has been a state-of-the-art kitchen for their new chef.

The light pours into the restaurant from window openings that were uncovered during the renovation. The booths are backed with wood salvaged from the floors upstairs, and paneling that was uncovered has been matched exactly.

There will be separate menus for the eatery and Club 304, and when asked what kind of food will be served, Michael responded quickly and definitively, "Good food."

Where there were apartments upstairs at 304, the space has been renovated and transformed into another bar with pool tables, games and a deck. There are lots of options for parties large and small.

The attention to detail in Pudge's and Club 304 is obvious and includes some little things, like what may be the last pay phone in Hudson.

The public should enjoy the "new" Pudge's where everything old is new again.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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