Finn McCool’s Irish Gastropub has poured its final pint.
The Main Street bar and restaurant abruptly closed Wednesday night, hanging up a sign attributing the closure to “circumstances beyond our control.” Handwritten signs in the third-floor windows of the apartments above the restaurant read “We’ll miss you,” "Cheers," and “Rest in Pitchers.”
The owners did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The restaurant at 102 E. Main St. first opened in 2010 as Catherine Rooney’s.
In February 2018, Jeff and Mette Frotton purchased the restaurant after moving here from California. Part of the purchase agreement was that the Frottons had to change the name of the restaurant to distinguish it from Catherine Rooney’s other location in Wilmington, which remained under its old ownership.
They turned the upstairs portion into a whiskey bar, updated the menu and promised to bring in a variety of Irish music acts.
“Our feel is that, in Ireland, just like here, there’s a gastropub movement. Pubs there are not what they were in 1960. There’s a focus in Ireland on fresher ingredients and better cooking, more elevated presentation,” Mette Frotton said in July 2018. “So we want to take this Irish pub and really follow that trend – more local resources, more fresh ingredients – it’s still authentic Irish, but a little bit more modern Irish.”
Over the summer, though, the Main Street construction project took its toll on the restaurant, cutting business in half, according to Jeff Frotton, even though the construction wasn’t happening in front of Finn McCool’s.
“We’ve got a number of friends who told us they are not coming to Main Street while its under construction,” he said in August. “They’re locals in Newark telling us that.”
“The doom and gloom stories are scaring people away,” he continued. “Traffic and parking are really fine.”
The closure of Finn McCool’s leaves vacant part of one of the oldest and most recognizable buildings on Main Street. Constructed in the first half of the 19th century, the brick building was used as the headquarters for the First Bank of Newark starting in the 1850s.
It was later converted to residential and office space, and by the time it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, it was being used as a real estate office. In 2008, Lang Development Group renovated the building and added 10 apartments and office space onto the back.