When Mark Ternes took ownership of Finley’s Irish Pub & Eatery last August, he said he planned to take the Largo bar to the “next level.”
Those plans included expanding to a vacant space next door on Belcher Road as well as doing more events and other things involving the community.
The expansion plans fell through, but Ternes has kept true to his word about events and community involvement: he recently hosted a benefit for a local resident in need, and he is planning a giant three-day festival for St. Paddy’s Day next month.
“We’re unofficially calling it Fin-Fest,” Ternes said of the event, which will take place March 15-17. “There will be stuff going on inside and out all weekend.”
The pub has always hosted a St. Patrick’s Day party, but it was relegated to one day and a relatively small portion of the parking lot; this year Ternes is pulling out all the stops.
Two tents will take up nearly half the parking lot outside the bar, where there will be beer trucks, food vendors, an Irish whiskey bar and plenty of live music.
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The fun kicks off on Friday, March 15 with three bands, including Sarasota Slim and Sugar Daddee. Saturday night, local legends the Black Honkeys should pack the place.
Sunday will be dedicated to the holiday, with music by the Guinness Band and Daniel O’Ryan as well as traditional Irish food.
“Friday night will be no cover charge, with regular food items like burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches,” Ternes explained.
“Saturday there will be a $5 cover for the Black Honkeys, and Sunday will be a $5 charge as well, with five traditional menu items like corned beef and cabbage and fish & chips.”
Ternes said he knows he has to spend money to make money in order for his place to gain a strong following in a large, sprawling city like Largo.
But his experience — he ran a popular bar on Indian Rocks Beach for 10 years — and love for what he does make him confident that he can be as successful as a neighboring Irish bar.
“People say I’m trying to compete with O’Keefe’s,” he said. “I say yes, of course I am! I want to be as big as them!”
“I’m trying to put Finley’s on the map, and I want Largo to be a big part of this.”
Finley's Irish Pub & Eatery
Address: 13477 Belcher Rd. S., Largo
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. - midnight