After more than 20 years, an unexpected phone call changed Ivy Jackson’s life.
Jackson, who has worked in the kitchen at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Center City since 1985, stunned herself when thoughts of an old co-worker drifted into her mind in the early days of the pandemic. She’d worked with Joseph Scott for a decade at the Irish pub before left for another job, and the two lost contact after just a few weeks.
Although she didn’t realize it at the time, answering his call was the beginning of the next chapter of their unique love story.
“We kept in touch for a little while (after he left McGillin’s), but not long,” Jackson said. “Before he even called me I was thinking about him. Joe Scott — that man always made me feel really good, made me smile, made me laugh. Of all the men in my life, he’s the one I remembered. A month later he called me. I couldn’t believe it.”
Scott had been working at McGillin’s for a few years before meeting Jackson. The two first crossed paths in a stairwell and were immediately interested in each other. Though they once shared a kiss, Scott left years later and they lost contact with each other shortly after.
Though Scott left his phone number with Jackson, it took more than three attempts before he finally got her attention.
When she saw him again for the firs time, she was shocked at how different he looked. She joked that he’d gained a lot of weight over the years before giving him a quick hug.
In the months that followed, Jackson and Scott spent hours talking on the phone and rebuilding their friendship. As they talked about their jobs, families, and how their lives has changed, Jackson came to a startling realization — she was developing romantic feelings for him all over again.
“He kept on calling me, and I’m glad he did,” Jackson said, looking over at Scott with love. She detailed each instance in which she turned away his affection, but he didn’t give up.
Scott showed up to the bar on a number of occasions to bring Jackson gifts — safety garments for working in the kitchen, money, and at last, a key to his house.
Though Jackson never used the key, it was meant to be a signifier of the seriousness of their budding relationship and the power of their reconnection.
On Nov. 10, the team at McGillin’s set out for an annual tradition — an hours-long process of decorating the old Irish pub for the holiday season. Nearly all of the staff was in attendance, but to Jackson, it seemed like a regular Thursday. She was brought up to the second floor of the bar to find all of her co-workers gathered together, and Scott standing among them, waiting for her.
When she walked up to him, he got down on his knee and asked her to marry him. Though she was stunned at first, she quickly knew her answer was yes.
“Finally, after all these years,” Scott said.
Though Jackson and Scott’s love story is certainly unique, McGillin’s Olde Ale House is well known for its reputation as a matchmaker. The bar, which was founded in 1860, has been the meeting place of dozens of couples in its history. The bar even has a guest book for couples to tell their own love story, a testament to its matchmaking magic. Couples frequently celebrate anniversaries or take photos on their wedding day.
“We’ve never had somebody come back and say, “We’re divorced now. Can we cross that out?” Chris Mullins Jr., who co-owns the bar with his parents, told the Inquirer. “We get people from all over the region, and that blending of people and music and fun means you let your hair down. Beer helps, too.”
More couples have met, gotten engaged, hosted bachelor and bachelorette parties, and even gotten married at McGillin’s more than in any other place in Philadelphia.