By ROXANN MILLER
4:54 PM EST, March 10, 2011
When the Antrim House Restaurant closed its doors last fall, the owners of Flannery's Tavern on the Square in Mercersburg brought their unique brand of dining to that space, hoping to usher in a new dining experience.
The John Allison Public House, 104 E. Baltimore St., does not offer the same type of home-style, buffet food that the Antrim House Restaurant did.
"We made such a drastic change in décor and cuisine that we don't want people to think it's the Antrim House anymore," said owner John Flannery.
Named for one of the founding fathers of Greencastle, John Allison, Flannery's first name and his wife Ame, whose real first name is Allison, the completely renovated restaurant opened Dec. 23, 2010.
Almost unrecognizable from the former Antrim House, the new, upscale eatery has a lobby, hardwood floors, new lighting, and bar with a 12-tap beer system, booths and tables with plush, leather chairs.
"There's nothing that makes me happier than to please people. That's why we do what we do — to make people happy. We strive to exceed their expectations. That's why I do what I do," said Flannery, of Greencastle.
Flannery believes in buying fresh, local products.
"In most restaurants, the average item on a plate travels over 1,500 miles before it appears on your plate. Here, and at Flannery's, 90 percent of our menu, depending on the time of year, is within a 100-mile radius of us, Flannery said.
Opening a restaurant is a huge leap for Flannery, whose background was in manufacturing.
As the operations man, Flannery relies on his partner/executive chef Jeremy Jones and staff of 25 to make the restaurant a success.
Sandwich prices range from $9 to $14 and include a crab cake sandwich as well as pastrami on rye. Entrees range from lobster and crab Alfredo to BBQ boneless beef short ribs.
"I think there is a lack of quality restaurants in the Tri-State area. That's why we did what we did. There's nothing better than to come out and see people enjoying themselves," said Flannery.
The John Allison Public House will open a banquet facility on April 1. Flannery said the banquet hall would accommodate between 250 to 300 guests. In addition, live entertainment will be part of the restaurant mix beginning with Jerry Joseph on April 10.
"I'm hoping Greencastle will draw from Chambersburg as well as Washington County because we're right off 81. It gives us the opportunity to expand our market. I think it's an ideal location situated between Hagerstown and Chambersburg," Flannery said.
The restaurant will not use a lot of main line breweries, but Flannery would rather support local artisans such as Stoudts Brewery, Lancaster Brewery and Troegs Brewery.
"As well as supporting our local breweries, we offer a world class bottled beer selection as well as an extensive wine list available by the glass or bottle that is hard to find anywhere else in the Tri-State area," said Flannery.
Regular guests Bill and Kathryn Greene of Greencastle hope locals will give the new eatery a chance and not compare it to the Antrim House.
"They should compare it to Flannery's in Mercersburg," Bill Greene said. "I think people who were used to the Antrim House are going to have a little tougher time to get used to this. That was more of a home-style, buffet restaurant. This is totally different."
"This restaurant is fantastic. They have excellent food. They have wonderful management who just love people and they redid it (the restaurant) and made it gorgeous," Kathryn Greene said. "It's very welcoming. It's a very comfortable place. There's a wide range of prices on the menu. I think this is part of the new Greencastle."
To honor his Irish heritage, Flannery is planning a St. Patrick's Day celebration at both restaurants.
For the first time, he will offer a free, shuttle service from Flannery's in Mercersburg to The John Allison Public House in Greencastle.
Starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m., Flannery said a bus would transport guests from one restaurant to another to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Green beer will be on tap and Irish food will be offered at both restaurants.