Venue Review: Harrigan's Tavern
Here's a question — where can you go to find Santa Claus sitting on a moose, an 8-foot-long shark, "Bouncer" the bear, hundreds if not thousands of snapshots featuring a local bar's loyal patrons and 16 tasty brews on tap?
The answer? Harrigan's Tavern in Kettering. And, if you somehow managed to come up with another bar matching this description, you've thrown us for a loop.
In the last 40 years, Kettering's oldest tavern has undergone many changes, including a major move in 1984 from Far Hills Avenue to the location on Marshall Road. The bar was originally established in 1967 by a Dayton police officer of Irish decent, Jerry Harrigan. From 1969-99, the bar was owned by John Holton, who sold it to Mike Haley III and Dave Haig.
When asked how Haley got into the bar business, he said he "knew how to drink beer" and the rest he and his partner have figured out along the way.
Some of what the owners have learned about running a bar showed on several trips the Lounge Lizards made. After a recent AleFest adventure, the Lounge Lizards, bitten by the beer bug, headed to Harrigan's Tavern.
The Harrigan's experience begins as you pass though a large covered outdoor seating area complete with TVs. Arriving indoors, the bars interior is what Friday's or Applebee's must have had in mind when they first started, with a sea of cool tchotchkes and antiques adorning the walls. At the heart of this local watering hole lies a large rectangular bar in view of the many TV screens airing the game of choice. Flanking the bar on either side are combinations of seating, including comfy padded booths and wooden tables and chairs.
Grabbing a seat at the bar, Alexis opted for a Boddingtons ($4) and Craig a Great Lakes ($4) — both on tap. The golden, frosty brews were delivered swiftly to us as we engaged in a record-setting round of Photo Hunt on a nearby bar-top videogame.
Eyeing tempting treats being delivered to the regulars, we decided to jump in and order some snacks of our own in the form of a sampler platter ($9.95), which includes potato skins, cheese sticks, chicken tenders and chicken mini tacos. If fried food is your thing, this tasty array won't disappoint. But, if you're planning a special trip to this neighborhood watering hole, these munchies are child's play compared to the fabulous burgers ($6.50 for your basic burger, which they call "The Harrigan"), pizza ($8 for a 9-inch deluxe pie) and awardwinning chili ($2.25 for a cup) the bar offers.
On another visit, taking the sage advice our server, we opted for the Black-n-Bleu burger ($6.95). The first bite of the burger was a gentle smoky flavor followed by the salty tart smack of the generous blue cheese crumbles on top. The burger is one of the best we've had in recent memory — nicely sized, cooked to order and loaded with flavor.
While many bars and patrons have struggled with the smoking ban, Harrigan's has seen its food business improve, Haley said.