courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’
We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.
Up to this point in our profile series, we’ve mainly focused on the craft of bartending, a profession that’s finally getting its due. We’ve also talked to a few beverage program and bar managers, the people who design menus and run operations. But what about doing all that and more? What does it take to own your own bar?
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of owning a pub, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that idea. To get behind the dream to the reality, I sat down with Andy Duffy on a Saturday afternoon while hockey fans cheered in the background. As I spoke with him about Duffy’s, the Irish tavern that bears his name on Vermont Avenue near the 9:30 Club, it struck me that its one of those “third places” in my life. I’ve had friends work there, close friends are regulars, and hardly a week goes by without someone saying, “I’m heading to Duffy’s tonight.” There have been hockey game viewings, dart league matches, birthday parties and New Year’s. Duffy’s is my neighborhood pub.
Andy Duffy is most definitely the reason why we keep returning. But like the best publicans, he shies away from self-aggrandizement. There isn’t even a picture of him in this profile, at his request, because he believes the bar should be front and center. For him, the primary motivation to have his own place is the people factor. His low key pub is the “living room” for this intersection that used to be marked only by being a rough and tumble wasteland, now occupied by condos, the nearby Howard Plaza Towers, and newer bars like American Ice Company. More development is coming soon, but it’s still a bit rough in a different sense – Duffy’s has restrictions on its hours and is unable to stay open after midnight on weekdays, meaning when concerts let out he loses those potential customers. That’s a financial impediment to a pub’s success, and hopefully the results of a recent hearing will help change that in the future.
He took a serious risk opening his own bar. The five year anniversary is May 11. I wanted to know, has it been worth it? Continue reading