A Restored Pratt Street
Through improved and restored retail storefronts, renovated residential spaces, and curated programming, Pratt St is being rediscovered.
Just a few doors down from our first Pratt Street Original, is the storefront of our second feature: Vaughan’s Public House owned and operated by Johnny Vaughan. Since opening the doors of his pub back in 2004, Johnny has created a place that embodies the best of Ireland’s famous Irish pubs: quality food and drink; a homey, no-frills atmosphere, and a welcoming, community friendly spirit.
Read on to learn more about our Irish Pratt Street Original:
If you’re looking for Irish authenticity, it doesn’t get any more authentic than Johnny Vaughan. While many Americans have Irish ancestry, Johnny is an Irishman himself having been born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. After being recruited to play soccer at Central Connecticut State University, Johnny made his way to Hartford where he set out to open a pub reminiscent of the Irish public houses of his homeland.
Accomplishing this goal started with the foundation of the pub. In a profile the Hartford Courant noted that “Nearly every stick of furniture, photograph and piece of crockery in the place was imported from Ireland, even the wood flooring and the rosewood mahogany bar. The droplights came from Northern Ireland.”
Upon walking in, patrons are greeted by a mural “depicting Irish political, literary and sports figures (and, for good measure, Vaughan’s grandfathers).” The mural was even painted by Paul Joyce, the great-grandson of noted Irish Author James Joyce, another testament to Johnny’s commitment to incorporating pieces of home whenever possible.
Johnny’s commitment to creating the atmosphere of a real Irish pub can’t be denied, the real testament of authenticity is found in the pub’s food and drink list. Vaughan’s has curated a draft and bottle list of both classic Irish beers as well as local brews, establishing the pub as a place where visitors can enjoy an imported Irish ale one day and support their local brewery the next. Guinness, as expected, is on draft but you won’t find a shamrock traced in your foam. “Nah, we don’t do that,” Johnny told the Courant.
Instead of flashy gimmicks, Vaughan’s bar staff is taught Irish history and the origins of their impressive list of imported beers, wines and whiskeys. The pub is also known for their homemade Irish cream made fresh daily and available to purchase by the bottle during the holidays. One sip of their Irish tonic and you’ll never want to go back to Bailey’s Irish Cream again.
Johnny’s admirable focus on authenticity and craft on the beverage side of the business is mirrored on the lunch and dinner menu – a feat that isn’t true of all Irish pubs. “We wanted to do an Irish pub with a big emphasis on food, not just booze,” he told the Courant, expressing his goal to “give people a taste of Ireland and Irish fare.”
A look at the reviews from Vaughan’s diners show that Johnny’s goal was certainly achieved. Food critics and everyday people alike rave about the pub’s shepherd’s pie, corned beef and reuben as well as their desserts including their famous cheesecake and decadent guinness brownie sundae. The obvious care in cultivating the food side of the public house has certainly played a role in Vaughan’s spots on numerous “best Irish pub in CT” lists over the years.
We certainly tip our hat to the thought and attention to detail that went into the decor and food and beverage offerings at Vaughan’s Public House. However, what we are really impressed by is Johnny’s ability to create a place that is welcome to numerous communities.
One of these communities is the sports fan community. People have long flocked to Vaughan’s to watch their favorite games from the NCAA March Madness crowd to soccer fans, in search of a place to tune into their hard to find European soccer league games. The pub has also established itself as a wholehearted supporter of Hartford sports teams, particularly the Yard Goats. Fans of the beloved baseball team often gather there to watch televised games and starting this year, you may even catch a Vaughan’s Public House pop-up in Dunkin Donuts stadium.
Another community is, unsurprisingly, the Irish community. Johnny’s pride and love for his heritage has not gone unnoticed and he was even named as one of two honorees by the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee as part of Hartford’s 2013 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. March is understandably a special time of year at Vaughan’s where this community really comes to life.
The final community consists of the occasional and first time visitors to Vaughan’s Public House. This includes everyone from the curious Hartford locals who step in during their visit to Pratt Street to the people traveling to Hartford to see a show or game at the XL Center and everyone in between. Those who stumble upon Vaughan’s always remark on its welcoming atmosphere and kind staff. Many have even made a visit to Vaughan’s a permanent part of their Hartford itinerary.
When discussing the layout of the pub, Johnny said to the Courant “we just wanted to keep it quaint, keep it cozy, keep it warm up here.” He did just that, creating a homey, welcoming and beloved pub that we are proud to have part of our Pratt Street family.Go Back