Nolan’s Carves Out a Niche in the Downtown District

A lot of people dream about opening a bar. But a lot of people also dream about being an astronaut or gymnast, too.

Craig Davide is one of those people who not only dreamed about doing something, he actually followed through on it. 

And thanks to a little determination, and a lot of support from his wife, Davide now owns one of the most popular bars in downtown Safety Harbor, Nolan’s Pub.

“I was sitting at the House of Beer in Dunedin, and I realized there were really no neighborhood pubs near me,” Davide, a burly ex-cop with an outgoing personality, recalls.

“I turned to my buddy and said, ‘You know, I always wanted to open a bar.’ And I drew up a business plan that night, because I knew my wife would want to see one. Then I started looking for a place.”

Davide was taking a big risk. He had left the St. Petersburg Police force shortly after getting married in 2005, and at the time he held a lucrative job at a Tampa exporting company.

Plus he and his wife, Kristy, had just had a son, named Nolan.

But the boy would become an inspiration to his father, and after a few months of searching and another month of construction, Nolan’s Pub opened on Oct. 29 of last year.

“It’s funny because we weren’t even supposed to open that night,” Davide admits. “I had just got my beer license at 6 o’clock that evening, and the place was full of construction stuff and dust.”

“But people were tapping on the door, and my buddy said, ‘You got beer and you got a cash register’ … so I unlocked the door and let them in.”

Not only did the patrons not mind the debris, they packed the place that night, and Nolan’s has been packing them in ever since.

A variety of theme nights  plus a healthy dose of live music and a couple of interesting group games (giant Jenga anyone?) have helped make Nolan’s a popular pub, especially with the younger crowd.

And the beer wheel, where you have to drink all 20 beers on tap to win T-shirts and name plaques, has been a big hit.

But the main reason Davide believes the place has been so successful — it recently was named one of the top 25 bars in Tampa Bay by tbt* — is because of the inviting atmosphere.

“I think we’re different because we’re accepting of everybody. Whether you’re digging ditches or doing brain surgery, you’re accepted here.”

For her part, Kristy is glad Craig followed through on his dream.

“I was scared…but I thought this place had the potential,” she says as she and Craig prepare for Nolan’s sibling to be born. “It fits his personality.”

“I knew we had to try it, and it’s been great.”

Source:  Jeffrey Rosenfield,


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