By Bruce Collier
Johnny McTighe’s Irish Pub is located in the Santa Rosa/Blue Mountain Beach area of 30A. On a recent and foggy night, pub owner Jac McTighe—“That’s ‘Jack’ without a ‘k’,” he says—took some time to talk to The Beachcomber about his place, and plans for the coming St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
Jac named his pub Johnny McTighe’s after his son (“His name sounded more Irish.”). Johnny McTighe’s first opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, billing itself as an Irish pub.
McTighe originally called the place simply an Irish pub. Then a customer came by and was pleasantly surprised that it offered a family atmosphere and a full menu (“He said he thought it was just a bar.”). The name was adjusted, and McTighe was pleased to see an upswing in business. “I had been missing a big market,” he says.
McTighe hails from Ridgewood, New Jersey. He had grandparents from Ireland, still has cousins there, and three of his uncles were cops. He graduated from Oglethorpe University in Georgia, has taught history and psychology, and ran a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant. A hitch at Eastern Airlines supervising flight attendants allowed him to travel the world at bargain-priced airfare. He still travels extensively, frequently to Ireland, where, as a pub-owner, he says, “I’m the richest man in town.”
There was originally another Johnny McTighe’s in Buckhead, Georgia, which eventually closed. Jac had a condo in this area and made a permanent move. In 2008, he acquired an empty building on 30A, and after a year’s work, opened the current place. The atmosphere is warm and cozy, with a bar, dining rooms, game room, and space for a band, karaoke and other seasonal events. The pub has done well, and can “stay above water” all year, with the high season being March through October.
Those who have visited McTighe’s know the layout—the bar is on the right side, with tables for dining, main dining room on the left side, and walls bedecked with Irish-themed decorations and framed police uniforms and insignia. Cops, of course, get a discount.
Over the nearly 11 years of its existence, Johnny McTighe’s has been able to consistently maintain its customer numbers—offering a consistent menu of sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, salads, a scratch-made Maine lobster bisque, pizzas (still dear to Jac’s heart), and hearty pub fare like pork shanks, corned beef and cabbage, and fish and chips. The drink selection includes a wide variety of Irish whiskey (including Jac’s personal favorite, Jameson’s Caskmates IPA), beers, and of course Guinness.
Johnny McTighe’s is the biggest Guinness account on the coast, says Jac. The game rooms are kid-friendly, which gives parents a chance for some alone-time in the dining rooms. “It’s a local pub, nothing fancy.”
March 17 is the biggest day of any Irish pub’s year, and Johnny McTighe’s has laid on a band (Max McCann), there will be a parade (Jac was recently Grand Marshal), and attendees will be welcome for drinks, dancing and a limited menu for the day. “It will be mobbed,” says Jac, who advises coming early.
In his spare time—“I have plenty of spare time,” he says—Jac likes to fish, golf, and travel. Between 15 and 20 employees keep the place running; several have been there since it opened. Jac is present, but prefers not to bartend. As for cooking, “you don’t want me in the kitchen.”
JOHNNY McTIGHE’S FAMILY DINING AND IRISH PUB
2298 West CR-30A, Santa Rosa Beach
Open Daily, 11 AM-2 AM
Random Facebook Comment:
“Nice place and friendly staff. Guinness was actually poured the right way, as I witnessed while in England over a two-year period.”
– James C.