If a plane ticket to Ireland is not in the budget at the moment, try grabbing beers at Philly’s newest bar that aims to make its customers feel transported to the country.
Saint Declan’s Well opened in the beginning of the month at 31st and Walnut streets. On the same strip as World Cafe Live and right off Drexel’s campus, the bar turned a former bicycle shop into a burgeoning hotspot.
What makes Saint Declan’s Well different from other Irish places in the city is the bar’s authenticity, as well as the accents.
The bar feels like a traditional Irish pub, and Aidan Travers, an Ireland native and one of the co-owners of Declan’s, said he wants to keep that feeling of legitimacy throughout. He and Marty Spellman, the other co-owner, said “sometimes, simple works.”
That mentality also applies to the décor of the place.
“What we’re trying to do is a real Irish bar, not your cookie-cutter bar,” Travers said. “Keep it simple, with not a lot of clutter on the wall, a nice fireplace, which keeps the atmosphere and makes it feel authentic and more real.”
Antiques found from various places decorate the walls behind the full bar, making the space homey. Televisions hang above playing sports, while the rest of the bar has seating for those who want to eat and chat with friends while drinking Guinness. Ciders and beers imported from Ireland are on tap, as well as local craft beers. Another authentic European drink available at Declan’s is the Snakebite, a U.K. drink made with beer, cider and blackcurrant syrup.
Far from gimmicky, the bar hopes to stand out by providing quality service.
“We hire experienced bartenders, not just the eye candy, but people who are able to have a conversation with you. We’re not trying to just get money off people. There are [bartenders] that think they always deserve tips, but you don’t deserve a tip, you earn a tip,” Travers said about the staff.
Travers said he wants everyone who comes into the bar to feel like they know their bartender and, sticking with authenticity, most of the staff has a true knowledge of Ireland. Visitors at the bar can feel free to explain what county their great-great grandparents came from, because someone there will likely know the place and possibly have family there, too.
Making sure patrons feel relaxed and welcome coming into the bar is part of Declan’s mission, and that extends to opening the bar at around 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays when European soccer games are on TV. Declan’s offers specials and deals when sporting events are on, such as Eagles games.
“Right now, people are just getting to know us and we will have our growing pains, but we’re just going to try for a friendly atmosphere. Come in and I guarantee someone will have a conversation with you, and they’ll get to know you and know what you drink. Eighty percent of the people who come in here now, I know what they drink,” Travers said.
As for the menu, the bar provides typical Irish pub fare with options like fish and chips or bangers and mash.
Open already for lunch and dinner, breakfast will soon start on the weekends. Breakfast will feature traditional Irish food, which includes black and white pudding.
The official grand opening, which will feature specials and deals, will take place on Oct. 8.
Sinead Cummings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.