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Bar Owner Trying to Change Downtown Culture

Jennifer Lantry, owner of O'Shy's Irish Tap House, has big plans for the Old Northwest district.

After 15 years of living in Largo, Jennifer Lantry was tired of hearing all the negative connotations associated with her adopted hometown.

Lantry has heard derogatory terms used to describe Largo, seen her friends travel away from the area for a fun night out on the town, and endured plenty of rolled eyes and sorry smiles when she told people she was opening a bar in the Old Northwest district off West Bay Drive.

"I want to get rid of the word Larghetto," said Lantry, owner of on Clearwater-Largo Road. "I'm trying to get Largo to be a normal word in people's minds."

"The people who live here should stay here when they want to go out and have a good time," she said.

In July, the charismatic Lantry, 33, formed Largo's First Friday, a weekly street festival that caters to families, and she has already seen attendance grow from 800 for the initial event to 2,500 for the most recent one.

But the self-described talkaholic who is never at a loss for ideas has bigger plans for the recently revitalized area, which stretches along West Bay from Missouri Avenue to Clearwater-Largo Road.

"I want to have a Turkey Pub Trot for Thanksgiving and a Santa Pub Crawl near Christmas. There will be a $500 grand prize, and you have to visit all the bars in the area to win tickets and gain entry to the drawing," she said.

Those concepts are just the tip of the idea iceberg for Lantry.

"The weekly Largo First Friday festival is going to have a rotating theme, like a winter wonderland, pirate invasion and Renaissance fair. That way people don't get tired of coming to the same old thing every week," Lantry reasons.

In addition to those events, Lantry is hosting a stone crab/seafood festival this Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m., with contributions from many area restaurants. And on Dec. 17-18 she's organizing the inaugural Old Northwest Holiday Market, a combination fresh market and gift fair "just in time for the holidays."

A longtime veteran of the bar and car businesses, Lantry has always had a knack for coming up with creative ways to promote her products.

Now that she is an owner of an establishment in an area she feels passionate about, she believes she has an obligation to unite her fellow business owners and contribute to the growth of her community.

"I'm very business friendly," Lantry said. "I don't believe I'm in competition with the other bars around here. The way I look at it is: What's good for one of us is good for the whole area. We're all in this together."

Colleen Huffman, co-owner of the new  opening nearby, can attest to that.

"I was just over at Jennifer's earlier, talking about our businesses," Huffman said one day last week. "She has been incredibly supportive of what we are doing. I'm very thankful to her for all she's done for us."

Although some may believe Lantry is just out for herself, she just shrugs off any negativity.

"I've put a lot of my own money into these events, and most of all the proceeds go right back to funding the next festival," she said. "I'm not getting rich off these things by any means.

"I just want us all to work together to make downtown Largo an entertainment destination. If we all work together, I don't see any reason why this area can't bloom like Dunedin, St. Pete and Palm Harbor."

O'Shy's Irish Tap House

Where: 80 Clearwater-Largo Road N., Largo

Contact: 727-588-4444

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 1 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday

Sean Stewart November 14, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Wow, Jennifer seems a strong woman after all/// Now that she own that business in the area, i really thought that she has proven herself to everyone!! I really commend her pursuing what she loves for the benefit of everyone! Two thumbs up..! **** Visit Crumblrr.com
The Deli Diva November 15, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Jennifer is the bright light our little downtown has needed for a long time. She is like the energizer bunny and works very hard to promote the area. She has done more for downtown Largo in just a few months than all of us business owners put together have been able to accomplish in years! We're happy to know her and be a part of all these wonderful events! Anne and Rob The Deli Diva Restaurant
JEN November 15, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Thank you! And I will keep fighting to promote this area! Everyone is going to city hall tonight to speak up for our festivals and ask for the continued support from the city of largo. We have two property owners that would like to shut them down. So if you can come then great!
JEN November 15, 2011 at 04:59 PM
SUPPORT..........FEST ON 1ST!!!
The Deli Diva November 15, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Jen, Charlotte came and told us about the meeting. We'll be there to speak up and give our support!

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