Largo Dives and Bars: An Irish Pub
John Hendrick sits down with Patch to discuss his pub.
Cultures confront the quotidian realities of life in different ways. Some construct cars so that the driver is to the right of his front-seat companion. Some eat dinner after midnight, while others retire to their beds at dusk. Some bury their deceased and some cremate the remains. Some open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Some do not have Christmas at all.
This, too, is true with public places of alcohol consumption. Americans have bars, the French have cafés and the Irish have pubs.
Finley’s Irish Pub and Eatery, located on 13477 Belcher Rd., suits those who yearn for an American version of an idealized Dublin-like hangout. Its oak bar is old-fashioned and welcoming. Behind it lie rows and rows of opaque bottles of hard liquor, like Red Breast and Jameson. Flat-screen televisions stand beside expansive wall mirrors. Guinness, one beer of a baker’s dozen on tap, is Finley’s customers’ drink of choice.
John Hendrick, co-owner and Largo native, likes to unwind at the end of hard day with an Irish Car Bomb (Bailey’s, Jameson and Guinness).
Viewing the Pub from the outside, it is difficult to discern Finley’s je no sais qoui. It is tucked into a corner lot in a shopping center north of Ulmerton Road, one of the many of such centers that beset Largo’s main throughways. Upon entrance, however, one is immersed in a convivial ambiance.
“We’re a diamond in the rough,” Hendrick explained. Gregarious and conversational, necessary traits for a former bartender turned pub owner, Hendrick managed Finley’s with Emily Huffard and Michael Patrick Kelly since February of 2008.
Opened in the middle of a recession, Finley’s has thrived since its inception. A sign that perhaps is a testament to the luck of, well, the Irish.
Hendrick's rationale for the bar’s success is a bit more practical.
“People are looking for good comfort food and a good atmosphere. Some might come initially because it is an Irish place, but they stay because it is relaxed,” he said.
That comfort menu includes shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and livers and mash, among others. Not a cuisine that one is likely to fall upon by chance.
Friday and Saturday nights are anchored by live music. Performers like J.J. and the Druid Roots highlight a regular cohort of Irish influenced acts. Wednesdays are reserved for trivia nights, which yield cash prizes to pop culture mavens. Happy Hour is longer at Finley’s than most. It goes from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. This might explain the palpable ease of its regulars.
Belcher Road is not an idyllic setting for a contented bar. “The road construction is hurting our lunch hour,” Hendrick lamented. But that has not stopped Finley’s from creating something singular.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” he said.