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John Martin's Irish Pub Permanently Closes After Three Decades in Coral Gables

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

For more than 30 years, John Martin's Irish Pub was the place to knock back a pint or two and listen to Irish folk music in Coral Gables.

Now, the restaurant and bar, a fixture on Miracle Mile since 1989, when childhood friends Martin Lynch and John Clarke decided to open a traditional Irish pub, has permanently closed.

After government orders shuttered restaurant dining rooms and bars for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, John Martin's shifted to takeout and delivery, offering drinks and traditional Irish fare to-go.

Then, around noon yesterday, the restaurant's owners sent a text message to regulars informing them there'd be no more pints of Guinness to share with friends at the Coral Gables hangout.

"It's not the way we planned to go out; we had planned on blowing it all out in May [with] a bunch of farewell parties, but we have to play the hand we were dealt," Lynch and Clarke explained in the text.

"We've been at it for 31 years, and it was time to pack it in," Lynch later told the Miami Herald. "The hardest thing I've had to do was tell the employees we're closing down. It's time to stay home and stay safe."

In the late 1980s, Lynch and Clarke put their restaurant-industry backgrounds to use by re-creating a bit of their home in Killinkere, Ireland, in what became the area's first Irish restaurant and pub, complete with a 20-foot mahogany bar and furniture and fixtures imported from a church in Ireland.

The two friends were pioneers of the Coral Gables restaurant scene, petitioning to change the city's alcohol laws so they could serve drinks at the ornate bar. (In 1989 in the Gables, alcohol could be served at tables only.)

Over time, John Martin's Irish Pub achieved iconic status, not least for its blowout St. Patrick's Day celebrations.  Every March 17 for nearly two decades, patrons festooned in green spilled onto the street to listen to bagpipers and folk bands while drinking Guinness and feasting on shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage.

Many a U.S. city is home to many an Irish pub where expats and locals can meet over a pint, but Miami isn't Boston or New York. John Martin's provided an authentic taste of Ireland in a city not known for the wearin' o' the green.

It's early in the day but not too early to pour one out for John Martin's.

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