When a new owner takes over a business, changes are inevitable. But sometimes, change can be good.
That appears to be the case at Finley’s Irish Pub & Eatery, the popular Belcher Road bar known for its blues jam and annual St. Patty’s Day party.
A few weeks ago, previous owner John Hendrick sold the establishment to Mark Ternes, and by all accounts, the transition has been a positive experience for everyone involved.
“John built a very nice business here,” Ternes says. “It’s unfortunate he had to break it up, but now he’s worry free. And he’s going to be a big asset to me.”
Hendrick, who had to sell due to a difference with his previous partner, hit it off with Ternes and will remain at Finley’s as a bartender, providing a familiar face for patrons who grew accustomed to his easygoing style.
“I wasn’t thinking of staying on, but as I got to know Mark, we built our relationship and I saw he wanted me to stay on,” Hendrick relates.
“It’s a win-win situation for me and him,” he adds. “I can watch someone take what I started to the next level, but be less stressed about it. So I feel good.”
Ternes, a 20-year veteran of the business, has plenty of experience operating bars in the greater Largo area.
He ran two thriving establishments on Indian Rocks Beach — the Blue Marlin and Marlin Time — but he had to sell them both because he was at the mercy of the landowners.
He then managed both Mickey Quinn’s locations, an experience that gave him a taste of what it was like to operate an Irish pub.
“That’s where my Irish started,” he says. “I went from sports bars to pubs.”
His familiarity with Finley’s led him to approach Hendrick when he heard about his situation, and in the span of a few weeks, the passing of the torch was complete.
“I always wanted my own bar,” Ternes said. “I found it in Finley’s.”
Ternes has grand plans for his new place.
While the staples of the business — the food, the pints, the blues jam and the name — will remain the same, he is planning some major changes.
“I’m taking over the space next door, which will add 2,200 square feet of space and 50 more seats,” he said. “I’m going to put in a stage for the music, pool tables, games and a new bar, and add pizza and flatbreads to the menu.”
The changes are all designed with families in mind.
“We’re doing it so families can come in and bring ball teams. I want this to be a place where you can bring kids after 9 pm.”
Hendrick is on board with Ternes’ plans.
“I think all these things need to happen in order to take it to the next level. I’m happy with everything.”