A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek of the new John Henry’s Pub menu with a quick overview of the renovation going on at the Cricket Ave. restaurant and bar. Last week, I stopped in at John Henry’s to speak with Kathy Kearney, who owns the bar with her husband Jim, to get the scoop on the changes.
I have to start by saying that I have been a John Henry’s regular since I moved to Ardmore. In fact, I was a regular when it was Annie’s, which Kearney’s mother owned. It’s one of my favorite spots to see friends and watch sports games, and I have many, many fun memories there. So I was thrilled to hear more about the changes happening.
John Henry’s Pub opened eight years ago, and according to Kearney, now “just felt like the time to make a change.” When she and her husband opened the bar, they had young kids, and as she says, “they wanted to get out of Chuck E. Cheese,” where they were frequently spending time with their children. Their goal was to have a bar that was kid-friendly and attracted a young clientele, so that it would be a place where they would feel comfortable hanging out their family and friends.
Eight years later, Kearney’s tastes have evolved, and many of the ideas for the re-launch came from her own desires. “My personal wants and needs have changed. I want to eat risotto when I go out. I want to hang out with 30, 40, and 50 year olds.” And since she and her husband are very hands-on owners who work regularly at the pub, she was worried things were getting stale. So the idea for renovations was born!
The updates are already underway. The renovation part of things includes painting, lighting, décor changes, and the addition of a cell phone charging bar, much of which is already complete. You won’t see any more sports memorabilia on the walls; the goal is to create an “upscale, family-friendly” spot, according to Kearney. But don’t worry—you will still be able to watch your favorite Philadelphia sports team there. I checked since that’s one of the main reasons my husband and I go there. Upcoming renovations include flooring updates in the dining room, updates to the bathrooms, a new outdoor sign, and eventually a redo of the back patio.
Some other exciting additions are already available with food and drinks. A new menu, which was put together by new chef MJ Smith, is 50% of the old menu and 50% new, including additions that incorporate their new craft beer options. I’ve had one of them—the Lagunitas wings—which uses Lagunitas IPA in the sauce. Yum! They will have 10 rotating beers on tap and a nice selection of bottled beer. They also have a new cocktail menu.
One of the unique things they are now offering is John Henry’s Pub growlers (see picture below). They let customers carry out a pitcher of beer. You have to buy the growler for $5 and then just pay for a pitcher. As Kearney said, “it’s a great way to try out a beer without buying a whole case.” Great idea, don’t you think?
The goal is to have all the renovations done by May 1. Keep an eye out for a possible re-launch party and celebration sometime in early May. In the meantime, the hard work is already paying off for John Henry’s Pub. Sales are up 20-25% since the new menu launched, and the regulars seem like they “were looking for something new and different too,” according to Kearney. Some are stopping by more frequently to try out the new menu and drinks.
I can vouch for the excellent new food. In addition to the Lagunitas wings, I’ve had the new Lobster Mac [and Cheese] and the Balsamic Chicken Sandwich. Everything I’ve had has been delicious, and I’m a little more excited than usual to stop by to try out something new next time.
What are you waiting for? Get out to John Henry’s today!