The Blarney Irish Pub celebrates five yearsWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Nov. 6, 2006, restaurant owner Ed Beczynski opened The Blarney Irish Pub on an empty street in Downtown Toledo. Since then, the restaurant and the area have flourished; The Blarney celebrated its five-year anniversary this week.
“It’s went really, really well,” Beczynski said. “Every year we have increased sales and we have done a lot of different things, including street parties for Oktoberfest and St. Patrick’s Day; we close the street down for two or three days.”
More than five years ago, Beczynski was looking to own a bar. Toledo was ripe with them, however, so Beczynski decided to bring something the area had not seen and a personal favorite, an Irish pub.
“I like to travel a lot and when we go to different cities we always look for a great Irish pub,” Beczynski said. “When I decided to open some kind of bar or restaurant, I thought of an Irish pub because it is always fun; I love live music and Guinness and all the kinds of craft beer. Downtown Toledo needed a place with live entertainment and a great atmosphere for people to have fun.”
Before he opened the pub, Beczynski did his research. He traveled to Ireland and visited 35 different Irish pubs to study the atmosphere, decorations, food and beverages.
“It wasn’t to see all the touristy things, it was to go over there and get a feel of a true [Irish pub],” Beczynski said.
“We didn’t go into the big cities. We wanted to go into the heart of Ireland. We just talked to the pub owners and employees. The one thing that was the same in all the pubs was how hospitable they were and the service.
“Their motto is ‘You are only a stranger once’ and that’s exactly how I felt when I was there. I would be there just for an hour or two telling my story and everybody is hugging me goodbye and literally taking things off their wall and giving to me to have it up in The Blarney.”
Those items, which now hang on the walls of The Blarney, weren’t the only things Beczynski brought back from Ireland. He also bought all the pub’s furniture there and had it shipped back to Toledo, giving customers as close to an Irish experience as possible.
“When I went to Ireland to check out the Irish pubs, I brought back a little piece of Ireland to Toledo,” Beczynski said. “There is a lot of stuff in The Blarney that came from different pubs in Ireland from their walls, because they were excited that I was opening up a pub in Toledo and they wanted to be a part of it. It just gives you a feel of what an Irish pub in Ireland is. That’s what we were trying to create.”
The correct location
Beczynski, who opened up restaurants Eddy B’s, Focaccia’s Delicatessen and Mojo’s Coffee during the past 15 years in Toledo, knew that building the bar wouldn’t just depend on the décor and food. He also needed to choose the correct location for the business to become a success.
After looking at other spots that weren’t quite what he was searching for, Beczynski ran into Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star Publisher Tom Pounds, who was looking for a building for his company. Pounds found a location on the corner of Monroe and Huron streets that he proposed could share, but the area lacked other establishments to draw people in.
“I went over with Tom and as soon as I walked in I fell in love with the building,” Beczynski said. “Everyone thought I was crazy when I opened up on that corner because at the time everything was located [elsewhere]. When I did decide to put it on Monroe and Huron, I heard a lot of people saying, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you are putting it there’.”
The Blarney took the downstairs portion of the building while Toledo Free Press sits above it. Since the move, two other restaurants have moved in nearby, PizzaPapalis and Table Forty 4. An Italian restaurant is being built on the same block. The location is across the street from Fifth Third Field, home to the Toledo Mud Hens since 2002.
Nearly three years after The Blarney opened, the Toledo Walleye hockey team and the $105 million Huntington Center moved in right down the street.
“We didn’t have any idea that Huntington Center was going to be built there, just a block away,” Beczynski said. “That was awesome once they announced that. Not only do we have Fifth Third Field right next door but we have Huntington Center and SeaGate Centre and some big traffic coming down Monroe Street. It’s a great corner, probably the hottest corner Downtown.”
The Blarney Bullpen
The Blarney expanded when Beczynski bought the building next door and named it The Blarney Bullpen. It is is used for big events and parties of 50 or more people. It was full Nov. 5 when the company celebrated its fifth anniversary with a party that included a roast of Beczynski.
“I got roasted. That was something else,” Beczynski said. “It went great and Tom was one of the ones who roasted me. Everyone who roasted me roasted Tom as well. It was funny and we had a great turnout. We have had a lot of parties but to be honest that was probably the best party we have had in the last five years.”
That celebration included proclamations of congratulations from Toledo City Council and Mayor Mike Bell’s office.
The Blarney opens at 11 a.m. and the bar closes at 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 1 a.m. on Thursday and 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It is also open for special occasions on Sundays.
“[The Blarney] has great food for a great price with great atmosphere and just a fun time,” Beczynski said. “If you are just looking for a place to have a beer and go home and you don’t care about that stuff then The Blarney is not it, but if you want to have a great experience in great surroundings with live music from Thursday through Saturday, then The Blarney is the place to come.”
For more information on The Blarney Irish Pub, including its menu and event schedule, visit www.TheBlarneyIrishPub.com.