Jan 1, 2016

Coonan's Irish Hub: Trivia on Mondays, nothing on Sundays, Guinness anytime and politics by request

Coonan's Irish Hub on North Johnson
The hairy guy's report:
An online directory of Irish bars in Michigan lists places with names like Bailey's, Dooley's, Kelly's, McThis, O'That and Paddy's Whatever. Local bars (or do we have to call them pubs?) on the list are O'Hare's, Paddy's Green Hut, Washington Street Irish Pub and Coonan's Irish Hub.

A disclaimer warns, in part: "It is up for you to decide whether or not there is any similarity to an actual Public House in Ireland."

The hairy guy has never been to Ireland, so he can't say. But Mrs. Hairy Guy, who has been there, says Coonan's is more like a restaurant because it's bright inside.

It does beg the question of what makes a bar an Irish bar.

Decor at Coonan's includes the standard stuff for a bar that bills itself as Irish -- Guinness on tap ($4.75 for a 16-ouncer), lots of green, one of those digital clocks that counts down the seconds until St. Patrick's Day. And Irish flags out front. The walls have a not-so-Irish collection of local high school sports photos, and lots of TVs show sports. But that's OK.

Regardless, it's a welcoming place run by Kim Coonan, who shows how a good host can make all the difference in a place. He greets regulars (the hairy guy is among them) by name, and the
Kim Coonan behind the bar
others on staff are equally friendly. Coonan's won a 2014 MLive poll for Bay County's best neighborhood bar

Kim (he's half-Irish, he says) is also a county commissioner, a Democrat, and says he'll happily talk politics with you but only if you bring it up first. We have, and we think he's a smart guy, but maybe that's just because we tend to agree.

The Hub is a good place to eat, with assorted burgers (the basic Hub Burger is $5.25), salads, various hot dogs, soup, sandwiches and some dinners. Harry can happily recommend the potato skins ($5.25) and, when it's available, the potato soup. Perhaps the careful use of potatoes is another sign of a true Irish bar.

The 24 brews on tap, including many craft beers, range from Bud Light (18 oz. for $2.25) to New Holland Dragon's Milk stout (11% alcohol, 12 oz for $5.50). Assorted domestic bottles are $2 for happy hour (3-6 p.m.) And there is a full bar. Mrs. Hairy Guy was impressed by a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice), which comes in the appropriate copper mug.

There is a jukebox. But this isn't a place to shoot pool or play darts. The only games available are from a lottery machine -- except on Monday nights, when Coonan's has been drawing a crowd for team trivia, a game being played seemingly every night at one local bar or another.

On a recent Monday when we met up with some associates to play, Coonan's was full by 6:30
Irish knickknacks and high school sports
p.m., preparing for the 7 p.m. start. By game time, 71 players were on an assortment of teams. Each player kicks in $1, the bar matches it, and the winning team gets the money.

Bar trivia, it turns out, really can humble a guy.

Of the six people at his table, the hairy guy was the only one who knew the name of Clark Kent's boss. He couldn't believe it. But he had no idea about how Harry Potter got to school his second year, the length of the Panama Canal or the word for a baby llama, among other things.

Harry's team finished a respectable second, after falling behind in the "presidents" category. (Jimmy Carter was allegedly the first president born in a hospital, by the way.) But we ended up way ahead of Doc's team, which is all that really mattered.

The whole thing was over at 10 p.m., when a packed and noisy bar suddenly got a lot emptier and quieter.

Posted hours for Coonan's are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday but it'll stay open later if enough people are around. It's closed on Sundays, except for an occasional fundraiser.

Almost forgot the answers: Perry White, a flying car (a Ford Anglia, one of Harry's teammates even knew), 48 miles and cria. But you knew that, right?


  The particulars:
  Coonan's Irish Hub

  1004 N. Johnson


john JohnS said...

Good post --- makes me miss the place -- and isn't that what it's meant to do??

Pete Kuttner said...

You compliment Coonan's for "the careful use of potatoes".
Do other bars use their potatoes carelessly?

Alexandria Taylor said...

Coonans is delicious and Kim is a wonderful owner, he will come out and help serve beer and food when it gets really busy! They always have a good beer selection also!

Mike Gaken said...

good post, I like this pub!