Claddagh Cottage is getting closer to reopening. The address is still Curry Ford Road but about a mile removed from its original location.
You’ll recall that the popular Irish pub was forced to close when the owner of the small strip of shops sold the land to a developer who razed the buildings to make way for a Walgreens. Because we don’t have enough Walgreens.
The old Claddagh drew its last draft on New Year’s Eve of 2016. Two Saint Patrick’s Days have gone by. Owner Scott Vocca had hoped to be open in the new space for the just passed Irish holiday, but some issues need to be worked out. It’s close, though, and late last week Vocca was putting the finishing touches on the freestanding pub in what some are now calling the Hourglass district.
One of the final, but not only, hurdles that was keeping it from opening was the proximity of a small church called the Community of Resurrected Believers. Its address is 2215 Curry Ford Road; Claddagh is at 2421. Among the arcane liquor laws that still impose puritanical restrictions of the selling of alcohol is that a business that wishes to serve it cannot be closer than 1000 feet from a church or school.
The church, in a small storefront, is easy to miss. In fact, the inspectors missed it the first time they approved Vocca for a liquor license, last year, giving their approval. But, Vocca told me, the approval has a time limit and if an owner doesn’t follow through with the purchase of the license another inspection must be done.
Vocca faced other logistical issues and wasn’t able to complete the license process after the first inspection. In the time between the first inspection and the most recent one, someone noticed the church was there. And someone apparently with a very long measuring tape determined that the distance between the front door of the church and the front door of Claddagh Cottage was about 20 odd feet short of the minimum distance. (By the way, there is a bodega directly across the street from the church that sells beer and wine. It’s close enough for someone to chuck a can of Coors and hit the front window of the church, but that’s a different type of license. Don’t get me started.)
Vocca said the church didn’t make a complaint, but rules are rules. And rules are meant to be bent. The building couldn’t be moved, so Vocca moved something else: the front door. Instead of the double doors fronting Curry Ford Road, a side entrance on Russel Avenue was designated the “official” entrance.
Inspection approved. And yes, it’s that silly.
But that wasn’t the last thing preventing Vocca from opening the taps. For one thing the parking lot isn’t finished. But just about everything else is, and the place looks great.
There are reminiscences of the old place. Part of the bar surface from the former address was used for the longer bar here.
But the best reminder of the original Claddagh is next to the dart boards: The clapboard facade and red front door. This one isn’t for patrons to walk through, as thousands did over the years. It now leads to the back of the house and a much bigger kitchen than the former place had.
So when will the scotch eggs and sausage rolls start rolling? Vocca said he hopes to have a soft opening by the end of April and a grand one in May.
I’ll let you know when it gets closer.
And by the way, the Walgreens is still being built, too.