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McCoy's Pub: Transplanting Ireland in Stratford

The story of Stratford's McCoy's Pub starts about 3,000 miles away.

The story of as most people know it today can be traced back to Dingle, Ireland.

The coastal town is where, some four years ago, newlyweds Glenn Zuklie and his wife stopped off during a two-week-long honeymoon in the Emerald Isle.

"The beauty of Ireland really struck me," said Zuklie, adding that locals in Dingle still speak Gaelic. "Everyone over there was very accommodating."

At some point, locals directed Zuklie and his wife to a nearby pub. After being handed a pint of Guinness, Zuklie said there was a moment while he was enjoying his drink and looking outside at the "pebbles in the road with blades coming through" when he was struck with the desire to open his own pub.

The pub's communal atmosphere was equally important in the aspiration to open an Irish tavern, said the 39-year-old Oxford resident. "I'm a people watcher, I wanted to create that environment."

Zuklie, a retired Waterbury police officer, would purchase McCoy's Pub in June 2011.

"I had probably looked at 90 locations in Connecticut," said Zuklie, who added that he ultimately settled on Stratford Center because of its "Greenwich Village-type experience."

To recreate what he saw and felt at the pub in Dingle, Zuklie said one of his first moves was to push some of the tables closer together. He said he also made sure to sit down with customers and encourage his patrons to converse with each other. To accomplish the latter, Zuklie hosts karaoke and board game nights, as well as staging live music at McCoy's.

"We've had a lot of customers build friendships just by sitting next to each other," he said. "A crowded room is a comfortable room."

Zuklie is half Irish and half Italian. He was born in Hollywood, Florida and adopted by a Lithuanian family, hence the 'Zuklie' last name. Zuklie has a 7-month-old son, Michael, and a 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, who enjoys dancing on the stage at McCoy's when bagpipes are in the room.

"I'm not afraid to boast we have the liveliest entertainment in the area," said Zuklie, who tries to have at least two Irish acts a month, which usually includes the house band, The Alehounds. And there's never a cover charge. "I'm a big fan of live music."

The food at McCoy's is about 40 percent Irish, Zuklie said. Some of the traditional Irish fare includes Smithwick's Ale Corned Beef N' Cabbage, Shepherd's Pie and the Irish Breakfast Burger, a half-pound patty served with Guinness-infused Irish cheddar, bacon and a fried egg.

But there's also some menu items atypical of Ireland, including the Vegetable Julienne Spring Rolls and the Gourmet Mac N' Cheese. One of Zuklie's favorites is the the Grilled Potato Pizza, but he admits "the corn beef is key."

Zuklie is grateful for the success he has had at McCoy's since purchasing the restaurant almost a year ago. And for that appreciation, he gives back to those in the community. On September 11 last year, Zuklie discounted all food 50 percent.

"I just wanted to give back to people who didn't want to be alone that day," said the former police officer.

Anne K. Mulligan May 08, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I wish one of the Irish-themed pubs would sell a true Irish dish – boxtie. Corned beef is not quite so Irish as we've come to think. http://www.salon.com/2010/03/17/st_patricks_day_corned_beef_and_cabbage_irish/
Stratford Town Studios May 08, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Glenn is a great guy, and his place is Irishly unigue! I highly recommend all in Stratford and beyond to try McCoy's Pub.

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