John Martin's Irish Pub Returns to Miami

Irish musicians and bagpipers were highlights of celebrations at John Martin's.
Irish musicians and bagpipers were highlights of celebrations at John Martin's.
Photo courtesy of John Martin's
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John Martin's Irish Pub became one of the first casualties of COVID-19 last year when it shut down just weeks after restaurant dining rooms were ordered closed.

The restaurant and bar, which served traditional Irish pub fare and offered live music, closed in early April after more than 30 years on Miracle Mile.

Childhood friends John Clarke and Martin Lynch opened the pub in 1989 in an attempt to bring a bit of their hometown of Killinkere, Ireland, to Coral Gables.

It's fitting that the restaurant known for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations has chosen today, St. Patrick's Day, to announce its planned reopening.

Breakwater Hospitality Group (the Wharf Miami, the Wharf Fort Lauderdale, Rivertail), along with Black Market Miami owner Erick Passo, have come together to revive the iconic pub. Together, they will renovate the original John Martin's and reopen it by this fall.

Breakwater partner Emi Guerra tells New Times he's very excited to be part of resurrecting a part of Miami's history. "It's really such an honor," Guerra says. "John Martin's is a place that I've visited over the years and it's filled with fond memories for me."

Guerra recalls being saddened by the news that the original owners of the pub were seeking early retirement and shutting down the beloved venue.

"Some time went by and we heard the location was available to lease, but it was during the height of the pandemic and we weren't taking on any new projects," he says.

A few months later, he received a call from a longtime friend, Erick Passo.

"Erick wanted to talk about a project we could possibly do together. He mentioned John Martin's being available for lease and I said, 'Funny you mentioned that.' Lo and behold, we were able to work out a plan to lease the space."

There was one caveat to going forward with the project, according to Guerra. "The only way we would do this is if we could bring back a piece of history. We need to have the blessings of the original owners."

Martin Lynch was particularly pleased to endorse the project. "What a great guy. He has great energy and great stories and we were able to make it happen. Here we are," says Guerra, adding that he's wearing a "Lucky Charms" T-shirt.

Lynch, Guerra adds, has been brought on as a consultant on the project.

Though much work remains to be done — including creating a menu — the new John Martin's partners are working on refurbishing the interior of the space with the help of Big Time Design Studios.

"There's going to be some modernization of the restaurant, but we do respect tradition," says Guerra. A lot of the wood was found to be rotten, he explains, but much of the original wood — which was brought in from Ireland — will be repurposed. The original ornate wood bar will stay, Guerra promises. "We will refinish it somehow and give it a fresh look, but yes. The bar stays."

Adds the new co-proprietor: "It's a dream come true to have a presence on Miracle Mile and to help preserve the legacy of John Martin's."

John Martin’s Irish Pub. 253 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Opening fall 2021.

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