In Like Flynn Tavern, the Irish bar that replaced J. Patrick's Pub in Locust Point, opened on June 7.
The neighborhood has already been "super supportive" of the new restaurant, according to general manager Cora Flynn. Some patrons came in three or four times the first week of operation, she said.
More than a year and a half in the making, In Like Flynn's route to open was not usual.
In early January 2013, Steve O'Donnell, a rookie to the restaurant business, purchased the Andre Street location (and its liquor license) at auction without ever stepping inside of it. Soon after, it was reported O'Donnell would keep the neighborhood favorite mostly the same, but he quickly clarified the bar's next concept was completely in the air.
O'Donnell ultimately stuck to the Irish pub concept, and had hoped to open the new bar in time for St. Patrick's Day that year. The renovation ended up taking more than 15 months to complete, Flynn said last week, because "the building needed a lot of work structurally, cosmetics, everything." Flynn — who previously worked at Peter's Inn, McCabe's and Bicycle — said the wait was longer than expected, but worth it.
"It's one of the first places I've worked out of where everything is brand new," Flynn said. "It's a fresh start."
The bar has eight drafts, and includes European stalwarts like Harp Lager, Strongbow cider and Guinness. (The only domestic beer, Miller Lite, is In Like Flynn's slowest seller, said Flynn.) The bar is also building its whiskey collection (seven types now, but the plan is to get more) and a cocktail list is coming soon.
A significant difference between In Like Flynn and J. Patrick's is the former's attention to food. The menu (which is the work of Flynn's sister-in-law, head chef Veronica Flynn) is described as a "fusion of Irish, American and Caribbean."
"It's not just meat and potatoes," Flynn said. "The food is kind of a focus, which was not the case at the old J. Patrick's."
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When J. Patrick's announced its closing, longtime regulars hoped the new tenant would retain the pub's authentic approach to entertainment — namely Irish bands and dancers. And Flynn understands firsthand why.
J. Patrick's was one of the first bars Flynn ever visited in Baltimore (she's from just outside of Boston, came down here to attend Goucher College and has been a city resident for the past 15 years). Her friends were musicians, and she frequently watched them play lively sets on Thursday nights.
"It felt like a real Irish pub, you know?" she said. "I would love to bring that back, honestly."
Flynn said she has already talked to local musicians, and would like to invite some to play in the next few weeks. She said traditional Irish artists will be welcome, and so will bluegrass and blues players. Don't be surprised if a reggae act or jazz quartet performs at In Like Flynn either, she said.
The goal is to make In Like Flynn one of the city's best Irish pubs, Flynn said, especially when it comes to food. But that is not the sole goal.