Serving a taste of Ireland

Grab a pint of Guinness and tuck into a plate of Irish fare.

Vintage streetlights straight from Dublin Ireland help light Lynch's Irish Tavern during the soft opening of Monday. The establishment's grand opening is set for Friday.

Port Huron’s newest pub offers a taste of Ireland, along with a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere.

After months of renovations, Lynch’s Irish Tavern, 210 Huron Ave., had a soft opening Monday. By lunchtime, several groups of patrons already were scattered around the restaurant’s bar and seating area.

Scott Scandalito said he and his wife, Kim, bought the building in June and had been renovating the former Hollisterz Night Club since. The couple originally planned to open in the fall, but the tavern’s opening was pushed back a couple of times. A grand opening is scheduled for Friday.

“We wanted to make sure everything was the way we wanted it,” Scott Scandalito said.

Inside the restaurant, dark oak tables and woodwork are paired with vintage street lights from Dublin, Ireland. A group of easy chairs surround a fireplace along one of the tavern’s walls, and on a stage for entertainment acts, an upright piano dating back to 1895 sits with an Irish flag draped over its top.

With roomy booths and wooden tables, the tavern seats about 140 people, Scott Scandalito said. Traditional Irish fare — such as shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips — make up a portion of the menu. The tavern also offers a variety of beers on tap and a selection of scotch and Irish whiskey.

Family members also are taking on various roles at the restaurant. Scott Scandalito said his daughter Meghan, 19, is the tavern’s head chef, while her older sister, Hillary, 21, is one of the bartenders. Jim Lynch, of Port Huron, Kim Scandalito’s brother, heads up maintenance of the building.

Vern Morley, 43, and Debbie Samson, 48, of Clyde Township, said they enjoyed the inviting atmosphere as they tried the tavern’s soup Monday.

“It’s probably the best place within 30 to 40 miles of here,” said Morley, who worked on stone and tile work around the fireplace. “It’s the only real Irish pub around, now.”

At the bar, Terry Lozano, 47, of Port Huron, only had good things to say after splitting a burger and Irish nachos with his 12-year-old son, Seth.

“Delicious, both,” Terry Lozano said.

The elder Lozano said he’s been looking forward to the tavern opening since renovations began.

The building almost was the home of another Irish pub, the Celtic Ray. When owners ran into financial issues, renovations stopped and the doors stayed closed in 2008.

Shari Blackburn announced she was opening Hollisterz Night Club in August 2009. But a post on the Hollisterz Bartenders Facebook page dated April 13 said the club closed because of increasing costs.

Now, the Scandalitos, of North Branch, hope their family-friendly restaurant will add to efforts to revitalize Port Huron’s downtown.

“(We want to) give people that haven’t been coming downtown a reason to come downtown,” Scott Scandalito said.

Mike Taylor, owner of Fuel Woodfire Grill and Spirits, 213 Huron Ave., said Lynch’s Irish Tavern adds a different flavor to current offerings.

While Vintage Tavern, 103 Michigan St., has the wine market cornered, Quay Street Brewing Co., 330 Quay St., is a good spot for locally brewed beer, Taylor said. People also can visit Fuel Woodfire Grill for barbeque and Pompeii’s Pizza and Italian Eatery, 1120 Military St., for Italian cuisine.

The more unique, locally owned restaurants set up shop in the downtown, the more enticing it will be for diners, Taylor said.

“The more the merrier,” he said.

Source: Julianne Mattera, thetimesherald.com

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