There’s an Irish belief in “the craic” – meaning fun, entertainment and enjoyable conversation. During St. Patrick’s Day, this Irish idea is evident, especially in Philadelphia. Fadó Irish Pub goes even further and provides its patrons with lots of “craic,” as well as conveying a traditional Irish pub experience.
“We definitely make sure that we are not a standard Irish pub,” said Casey Neff, general manager at Fadó. “We don’t want to be that American-Irish pub; we want to be as authentically Irish as possible.”
Located at 15th and Locust streets, Fadó celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with an outdoor festival the weekend before the holiday, called St. Practice Day. It serves as sort of an initiation event for the week leading up to that time of year when green is everyone’s favorite color.
“We just thought it made sense,” Neff said. “We’ve always wanted to do an event during the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, and we’ve done it for the past three years, and it’s gotten bigger every year.”
This year, St. Practice Day was held on Saturday, March 9, starting at 11 a.m. Inside the pub, Six Nations Rugby was broadcasted all day, a feature that Neff believes makes Fadó stand out as a premier European-style pub.
“We’re proud that we’re a legitimate European sports pub,” Neff said, “to the point where, on a Sunday during [Philadelphia] Eagles season, you may come in here and soccer will be on instead of football.”
To make room for the coinciding outdoor festival, Locust Street was closed down from 15th to 16th streets. Three large tents covered nearly the entire block. There was an outdoor bar, as well as a full draft trailer with six different beers on tap. One thing that Fadó thinks separates itself from other Irish bars is its insistence on imported European beer and local craft beers, rather than the traditional domestic beers usually found on tap. And of course, there was lots of Guinness – literally more than three tons.
“I ordered 45 kegs [of Guinness] for St. Practice and St. Patrick’s Day, and our Guinness comes straight from St. James Gate in Dublin,” which is where Guinness is brewed, Neff said.
As the tents started to fill up at St. Practice Day, the Irish band Fair Trade took the stage, performing a variety of covers, and closing out with “American Girl” by Tom Petty.
After Fair Trade finished, the tents started overflowing as more people entered what was turning out to be a block party. Even though it was a full week until St. Patrick’s Day, everyone was wearing green.
The wildly entertaining group Weird Science closed out St. Practice Day, advertising itself as “The Ultimate ‘80s Experience.” The group’s claim is valid, as it came out dressed in ‘80s garb – tight, fluorescent-colored spandex, glitter and big hair. Sporting the “keytar” – an instrument that’s a mix of a guitar and keyboard – Weird Science covered ‘80s songs, from “Take on Me” to “Livin’ on a Prayer,” all belted out by their lead singer, “Myndi” Lauper.
And St. Practice Day was just an introductory festival to the real holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. On Sunday, March 17, Fadó opened with an annual “Pints and Pancakes” breakfast. Patrons paid $10, and received all-you-can-eat pancakes and breakfast, washing it down with a cold beer. Beer was not included in the cover. The proceeds from the breakfast all went to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a nonprrofit organization determined to foster Irish Catholic culture and traditions.
After the breakfast, people slowly began making their way into the pub, which doesn’t look very spacious from the outside. After walking in, however, it was clear that Fadó really wants to get that European pub atmosphere across. The walls are all rich mahogany, covering three separate areas that surround the bar, which transition from quieter areas in the back corner for families to the raucous dance floor that’s been set up for the day’s festivities.
And while St. Patrick’s Day is notorious for being a sloppy, drink-all-day affair, Fadó does a nice job of keeping it from being chaotic. It was not very hard to get a drink, and there was actually a lot of room to move. It didn’t have that claustrophobic, pinned up against the wall party setting that Temple students are no doubt accustomed to. Of course, the dance floor was loud and crowded, but elsewhere the music was not so overpowering where you couldn’t have a conversation.
Jared Burke, an attendee at the Fadó St. Patrick’s Day celebration, said, “I really enjoy it here. It’s cool to see a mix of drunk Americans in a drunk Irish setting.”
Neff seemed satisfied with both St. Practice and St. Patrick’s Day.
“We try not to be pretentious, we try not to be too corporate – we’re here to have fun,” Burke said. “At the end of the day, that’s all it’s about.”
David Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.