Saturday, May 26, 2018

Josie Kelly's Public House

Josie Kelly's Public House

Image result for Macs Somers Point

At some point in his life every Irishman wants to own his own bar, and for Dermot Lloyd that time has come.

Originally from Limerick, Ireland, Dermot attended college in Birmingham England, where he studied Hospitality and Business Management. He worked in first class hotels and managed the West Gate Pub in Cork, Ireland before being recruited by a group of Irishmen who opened a series of Irish pubs called Ri Ra, a Gaelic saying that loosely translates to "King of Good Times."

After opening new Ri Ra pubs in Atlanta, Charlotte and in Atlantic City at the Trop, he has gone out on his own and is now preparing to open Josie Kelly's Public House in Somers Point.

Jose Kelly's is not a franchise, and is named after Dermot's paternal grandmother, who was from Adare, County Limerick, but she won't be paying the bills or taxes, as only her Irish spirit carries on.

After looking for the right location for a few years and missing a few opportunities, Dermot came upon the shutted Sandi Point, that most people remembrer as Mac's.

Taking it's name from the original owner named Harold Megronigle, - that Dermot says is an Ulster Irish name. The building began as a Clam Bar off the alley until Megronigle opened Mac's in 1924.  But after it was sold to the Previti family, Italians from the Ducktown section of Atlantic City, it became famous for its Italian cusine, but kept the Mac's name for the 60 years they ran the place.

For many years it was one of five - first class five star restaurnats in Somers Point, along with Daniel's (Antolini), Harry's Inn (Buddy Styer) - now Clancy's By the Bay, Chi Chi's (another Previti) and the Crab Trap (the only survivor). Dermot hopes to reestablish that legend.

Dermot and his wife Kathleen, who is from Atlantic City, have two sons - Seamus and Cal, and recently moved into a new house in Linwood where the Previtii family lived, so they feel a spiritual bond with the family that ran the place so successfully for many years.

They liked the big building with a parking lot, large bar room, comfortable dining room, side ballroom for special events, and a small upstairs bar that Dermot will one day convert into a Whiskey lounge. Having been schooled in the history and processing of the strong drink, and acquiring an official Whiskey degree, he knows his stuff.

After the Previti family era ended, Sandi Point was operated by a husband and wife team who had previously managed the first class Smithville Inn. Redecorating the old Mac's with a granite bar and wall to wall carpets and fine dining, they failed to bring the first class clientel back, and closed two years ago.

Since a typical Irish pub doesn't sport a granite bar and wall to wall carpets, they were the first to go as Dermot imagined what he could do to bring the Irish motif to life, and decided on Mahogany bars and to add a few fireplaces.

"At the very heart it's a local bar in a nice neighborhood,"  Dermot says in his thick Irish brogue while taking a break from the redecorating. "It must be relevant to the community, a vibrant place, and I just want to feed into that and fit in."

After having a vacant business next to them for two years, the Gregorys are glad to see the Irish move in, as competition only raises the bar and helps businss. Gregory Gregory says, "The best seasons we've ever had - everyone had a great year."

"I'm not trying to be a Crab Trap or a Gregory's, Charlie's or Anchorge," says Dermot, "I will learn from them to see how they've thrived y the community for so long, and try to fit in among them with my own theme, and work side by side with those guys. I'm going to anchor down, get settled in, and learn how to be a local like them."

According to Dermot, "The elements of an Irish pub is its a place to meet friends, have a drink and something to eat, listen to music and enjoy sports, and I'm sports crazy!"

Although he wanted to be open by late June and have his friends Derick Warfield and the Wolftones open the place, their tour dates now preclude that from happening, but he will be open for the second round of the World Cup football, and will have TVs covering the local sports as well, including baseball, soccer and golf.

"When you walk into an Irish pub," Dermot says, "there's businesmen in suits and ties at a corner table, some men in work clothes at the bar, and some young people meeting to go out on the town for the night, and they all coexist in the same place."

Irish music will be part of the deal, especially during Sundays typical Irish brunch, as everyone whose been to Ireland knows that breakfast is the biggest meal of the day.

"Irish cusine is no longer just meat and potatoes," he says, as Ireland has seen an influx of major Eurpean chefs, and "every time I go back it's improved, adding different elements to what is now Irish cusine."

Having been to an English culinary school himself, and his mother Margarete being a retired culinary school teacher, the motif will be casual but the cusine will be first class. The menu, he says, will be a hybird of American standards and traditional Irish, with hamburgers and sandwiches along with Irish brisket, Shepards pie and stew.

Besides the Irish and Scotch whiskeys, there will be a variety of good beers on tap, Guinness of course, as well as Smithwicks, Harp and Red Ale.

There will be a happy hour on weekdays and afternoon tea will be served from 2-6pm.

Josie Kelly's Public House will not be a seaonsal establishment, when they open in early July they will  stay open all year, as they are in it for the long run.

As they announced themselves on social media with a quote from William Butler Yeats: "There are no strangers here, just friends who haven't met yet."


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