A historic building in downtown Islip is getting back to its more recent roots.
The once-home of Allen’s Pharmacy at 528 Main Street is now widely known by the locals as the place that previously housed Lily Flanagan’s — a widely known Irish pub that ran for 30-plus years in the downtown.
In 2020, the team from Lily’s is coming back, but it isn’t the original owners.
Kyra Meehan-Comiskey, the granddaughter of Lily Flanagan, the pub’s namesake, is opening The Harp & Hound In the location that last hosted Mary Dowling’s.
The 26-year-old is launching the pub with her fellow co-owners at Flanagan’s in Lake Ronkonkoma: Matt Venturini, Nicholas Jimenez and Heather Hemberger.
The partners, who are all in their 20s or 30s, all previously worked under Lily Flanagan’s founders David and Niall Crowe.
In 1987, the Irish brothers opened Lily Flanagan’s in Islip and went onto open multiple locations, the last being Flanagan’s in Lake Ronkonkoma in 2013.
“It’s all of our stomping grounds,” said Hemberger of East Islip, on reacquiring the Islip Hamlet Lily Flanagan’s location.
The Harp & Hound team all have fond memories of Lily Flanagan’s headquarters — that’s what the team would call the Islip location.
For some, it was their first job. Others met their spouses there. If you ask any of them, they all can remember the great times they had in the old haunt.
“If the walls could talk they would have a lot to say,” said Venturini.
Venturini, 34, started as a barback and is now the owner.
“I was sitting at the bar [in Islip] and noticed the tip cup that’s been sitting there for over 25 years was still there,” said Venturini. “Every dollar that went into that cup helped us buy Flanagan’s in Ronkonkoma. And every dollar that went into buying Flanagan’s helped up come back to Islip. It’s a big circle.”
The foursome has been on the lookout for a new spot for the last 3-4 years. When they heard Mary Dowling’s was closing. They jumped fast.
Mary Dowling’s took over this Lily Flanagan’s in 2017. It closed this month.
“It was a Friday when we found out, by Sunday they were closed, and on Monday we had stuff in the works,” said Jimenez, who is also the head chef.
Together, the aim is to revitalize the building with a complete renovation.
“I want to bring that building back to what it was,” said Venturini.
The current plans are to re-do the kitchen by tripling its size, add a new bar area, intimate dining room and to clean up the patio area.
They plan to open sometime this spring.
While the name will change, the establishment will have all the same proverbial foundation as Lily Flanagan’s.
“We’re all about the community,” said Meehan-Comiskey. “We want this to be a place for everyone. We want to be able to bring our kids and grandparents there too.”
For food, they will have a similar menu to their sister restaurant in Lake Ronkonkoma.
“It’s going to be little more eclectic but still have the homey, pub food,” described Jimenez. You can count on them serving up their popular fish and chips, as well as other staples like shepherd’s pie.
There will also be a local component, where The Harp & Hound will be using local vendors such as Stanley’s Bakery and Islip Meat Market.
And, of course, they are bringing back staple bartender Edward “Lanny” Skehan.
“Lanny’s my mother’s childhood friend,” said Meehan-Comiskey. “Everybody loves him. He knows everything about the neighborhood. We couldn’t do it without him.”
The owners expect the Guinness will be flowing like water at The Harp & Hound, just like it is in Ronkonkoma.
“Out of the thousands of bars in U.S., we are one of the only places to have a perfect 10/10 pour rating by Guinness [in Ronkonkoma],” said Venturini. “We’re proud to bring that back to Islip.”
As far as the name goes, it pays homage to the bar’s Celtic heritage. Harp & Hound is named after the Guinness’ harp, the restaurant’s logo, and the hound is after the wolfhound, a fierce animal in Ireland.
“It’s our own brand,” said Meehan-Comiskey, David and Niall’s niece. “The four of us trying to make it our place under great leadership.”
“A true Irish pub is a hub in the community,” added Venturini. “And that’s what we want to bring back and do.”
Top: The Harp & Hound co-owners (L-R) Matt Venturini, Heather Hemberger, Kyra Meehan-Comiskey, and Nicholas Jimenez.