There’s been an ongoing discussion among some of us downtowners who bump into each at Starbucks every few days about whether J. Flynn is going to open before the renovations are completed on Jimmy Johns. I’m not sure who started this discussion or why the two were compared, but I have it on very good authority that J. Flynn will open first.
J. Flynn Irish Gastropub will have their grand opening on November 14th, and everyone is invited.
Yesterday I took the opportunity to check out J. Flynn, the new Irish Pub that’s coming to the 200 block, and talk to Cleve Mash and John Flynn about what is unique about J. Flynn. There is still 10 days of work to be done, but it is looking pretty good!
Raise your hand if you remember the previous places in this space, Clematis Social, Reef Rd. Rum Bar, and most recently Bobbi Sue BBQ. This series of restaurants opening and then closing within several months made us scratch our heads and wonder what was wrong with this space, and if any viable restaurant/bar could exist here. I asked Cleve this question and he was very frank about the issues with the space and what they are doing to fix it.
In the new layout, the bar is pushed up closer to the front of the restaurant. There is a “Snug” on the left side in the front as you walk in, and a community table on the right.
The stage is now up against the left wall in the back of the pub & on the right wall is a sitting area with two couches.
Along the walls are pictures of John Flynn’s favorite pubs in Dublin. Many of the cool features of J. Flynn were inspired from his favorite and one of the oldest family-owned pubs in Ireland Doheny & Nesbit (which I canna say without falling into my worst Irish accent, laddie – wait, that’s my Scottish accent… never mind).
On the back wall there is a massive 80 inch TV, but Cleve was quick to say that this isn’t a sports bar, and wasn’t going to be competing with Duffy’s or Grease on the same block. J Flynn will be an authentic neighborhood Irish Gastropub (more on that later) which will be a place where people can come in and watch Soccer games and other European Sports.
John Flynn, the pub’s Namesake, is the owner, and Cleve Mash and Mash Management Group make up the management team, alongaside Chef Frank Eucalitto from Café Chardonnay in Palm Beach Gardens.
Nobody knows the 200 block of Clematis Street better than Cleve. From starting Monkey Club and changing it over to Dr. Feelgoods, then his experience opening up Bobbi Sue, he has a lot of experience and has invested a lot into Clematis Street over the years. He explained his management style like one of a coach: Bring the right team together, make sure everyone is invested in the project, and then work hard to enable each of the people on the team to do what they do best.
When you have a discussion about an Irish Pub, the food isn’t really what you talk about. This idea that Irish Pubs just serve “pub food” is something that pubs in Ireland are working hard to get away from and you’re just as likely to find Indian food served at a pub as you are Fish & Chips. This is when John Flynn pipes up from the background (turn on the Irish Accent) “Pubs in Ireland don’t even serve Bangers & Mash anymore, that’s an American thing”.
The food and menu were a very important part of the conversation, and Chef Frank was tasked to create a menu that was unique. J. Flynn will have music, European sports, and a good vibe, but the management team is very focused on bringing people in because of the food.
Beer will start off with 8 taps and 40 different beers including microbrews.
Getting it right
My long time readers will remember back in May when I ranted on this blog about the quality of food that was served in Bobbi Sue BBQ just before they closed.
To finish this rant I want to say this: “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to Clematis Street. Throwing a good concept up against the wall is not going to create a popular and hip restaurant. Clematis Street is a difficult market and if you go into it like you go into setting up a food stand in the food court of a mall, it simply won’t work. You need good food, good management/servers, events, a connection with the local audience, and good PR to brand yourself as a “destination location” and bring in people from outside your local area.
Cleve was happy to discuss the issues that plagued Bobbi Sue BBQ. The issues were in the kitchen, as well as the format of the restaurant and the concept itself. As an experienced club owner who was moving into the restaurant scene, Cleve admitted he learned some “valuable, and very expensive” lessons from Bobbi Sue BBQ. Cleve stated that his primary goal in J. Flynn’s was to “bring good food to Clematis Street”
From everything I saw in my brief visit to J. Flynn’s it looks like they are putting everything they have into making sure that they get this right. And while they are still tweaking the restrooms, hanging TVs and cramming to get everything ready in the last days before they open, I look forward to coming back on opening night on November 14th!
This blog entry is day 7 of my 30-Day blogging challenge where I have committed to post a blog every day.
Please read the previous blog entries in this series:
Day 6: Why every small business owner should read the Costco Connection
Day 5: Bee Organics – The new organic café and “lifestyle space” in Downtown West Palm Beach
Day 4: Introducing BarCamp Palm Beach – Monday the 18th of November
Day 3: My top 5 Beaches in Palm Beach County
Day 2: City of West Palm Beach Chili Cookoff
Day 1: It’s November, and I’m Starting the 30-Day Blogging Challenge!