An Atlantic City institution run by the same couple for 40 years, the Irish Pub’s been going green long before that became trendy terminology.
Atlantic City showcased its Irish spirit last Saturday (March 10) in the 27th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but had you turned right off the Boardwalk at St. James Place, about a half-mile into the parade route, you’d have come across an establishment that probably emulates the flavor of Ireland better than anything else in the city.
The Irish Pub is at the base of an old (circa 1905) Victorian-style hotel building, and has been run by Dick and Cathy Burke since 1972. Entering during daylight hours may require an adjustment to the change in light, or lack thereof, but once done you’ll see that this is no cookie-cutter pub replica. The dark-grained wood interior and old-A.C. memorabilia makes for a warm, welcoming feel. It is a place with authentic charm that’s been sought out by locals and regular resort guests for decades. And whether it’s a reasonably priced meal or just a place to hang out and enjoy some spirits — including Harp, Bass, Killian’s, Yuengling and Murphy’s Irish Stout on tap — the pub will probably fit the bill.
Lifelong Atlantic City resident and 25-year A.C. Beach Patrol member Jim “The Singing Lifeguard” Craine has plenty of fond memories of the Irish Pub.
“We had lifeguard meetings there and we’d meet after lifeguard races and stuff, we had Steel Pier reunions there,” says Craine. “It’s a great place to go any time of the year, especially at Christmas time. Cathy decorates the place up so beautifully. And when you’re short on cash that’s the place to be, because they always have specials and the food’s outstanding.”
The pub does a daily “Poor Richard Special” ($3.50 lunch, $8 dinner), and on Friday nights has a 5-8pm happy hour offering $2.50 domestic draft pints and $3 appetizers.
“The portions are huge and the prices are really reasonable,” says Glen Eric, a singer/acoustic guitarist who performs at the pub every Thursday night. “I mean, it’s not four-star dining, but it’s not supposed to be. It serves its purpose.”
Eric, whose influences include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Neil Young, starts performing when the dinner hours wane Thursdays, and tailors his sets around the crowd’s temperament. If it seems laid back, he may lean more toward mellow rock classics. If it’s more upbeat — as it was last Thursday, March 8, when a convention was in town — he’ll go in that direction.
“On Thursday a PBA [Police Benevolent Association] convention was here and it was packed right off the bat,” says Eric. “I started doing a bunch of Irish tunes like ‘Drunken Sailor’ and others, and some members of the military came up and made a request for ‘The Wild Rover.’ So I started playing it and they actually got up and started singing along with me. That was cool, and one of the policemen from Monmouth County was a big Bruce Springsteen fan, and after he heard me do a few Springsteen songs he asked if I’d be interested in playing in his wedding, which was also cool.”
Eric is a two-time finalist in Billboard magazine’s songwriting contests (in 1991 and 1994), and will occasionally mix in an original or two he penned.
Prior to retiring from lifeguarding, Craine and his ACBP cronies had a ritual involving the Irish Pub — which this July will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Tour de Shore, a 65-mile bike ride (from the Philadelphia Irish Pub to the A.C. Irish Pub) that has raised over $2 million for various children’s charities.
“When I was still on the beach, we used to hang out at the pub for a while, ride the jitney down to Jackson Avenue and then thumb it to Washington Avenue and go to Maloney’s [a hallowed Margate hangout that closed in 2005],” says Craine. “Well, one night we got a little too raucous — it was when the song ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ was popular and we were all out practicing our Kung Fu fighting — and the bouncers at Maloney’s decided to give us the door. So where did we end up? Back at the Irish Pub.”
The Irish Pub
Where: 164 St. James Place at Boardwalk, Atlantic City
When: Open 24/7. Live music every Thurs. with Glen Eric. Fri. DJ Fran, 9pm
Contact: 344-9063 or visit theirishpub.com
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Name: The Irish Pub Address: 164 St. James Place at the Boardwalk, Atlantic City. 344-9063 History: The Irish Pub has often been referred to as "America's Greatest Watering Hole" according to the historic A.C. establishment's Web site (www.theirishpub.com). It's no wonder the local hot spot has gained national attention with its extensive selection of beers, affordable specials, and unique atmosphere that combines the style of a traditional Irish pub with the feel of your favorite neighborhood bar. Above the Pub you'll find a Victorian-style inn with rooms starting at just $20. Located on the Boardwalk, and only steps away from the beach and casinos, the Irish Pub is one of Atlantic City's can't-miss destinations for good times and friendly faces. Specials: A soup-and-sandwich lunch special offered daily for $2.50. Other daily lunch specials served from 11:30am to 2pm include a wide selection of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and burgers all under $5 with $1 domestic drafts. The Pub also offers Daily Blackboard Dinner Specials for $6.50 between 2-8pm in addition to a complete dinner menu. What To Know: The Irish Pub is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a full menu offered at all times....
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