Flanagan’s feast

Eatery offers Irish theme and plenty of choices

Flanagan's Corned Beef & Cabbage. Photography by Neal Bruns

If it’s March, the place to be is Flanagan’s Restaurant and Pub, which counts down the days every year to St. Patrick’s Day.

Owner Pete Giokaris brought the Irish pub-themed bar to Fort Wayne in 1989, long before any other bar-slash-restaurant was doing the “fast casual” concept that has boomed in recent years.
And he’s done it well, and consistently, ever since. In fact, Flanagan’s was the top vote-getter in Fort Wayne Magazine’s readers poll for casual restaurants in 2015.

That may well be due to Flanagan’s massive menu, including 118 or so items, or its insistence on preparing its menu items freshly in house, including freshly baked breads and homemade soups and sauces – and the Irish stew that Giokaris will be making himself for St. Paddy’s Day.

“I’ll be making about 250 gallons” of the hearty lamb and beef stew, Giokaris said. “We go through about 1,500 pounds of corned beef that week. It’s a busy week for us.”

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities run the full week surrounding March 17 and include a party tent with live disc jockeys, games, prizes and giveaways. Don’t be surprised to see more than a few customers (and perhaps staff) doing Irish jigs into the wee hours. Bagpipers are guaranteed.

But it’s not all things Ireland every day at Flanagan’s. There’s plenty more on the menu to satisfy diners with a range of appetites. Giokaris, who admits he’s been to Scotland and Wales but not Ireland, includes steaks, pasta and burgers on the menu.

“We age and hand-cut our own steaks. We smoke our own ribs and make our own bread in house,” he said.

“We consider ourselves a ‘scratch’ house,” he added. “The kitchen is one-third of our whole restaurant. Our top five guys in the kitchen have over 70 years (combined) experience with Flanagan’s.”
Indeed, a lot of the 50 or so staff members have been with the restaurant for many years, attesting to the family atmosphere Giokaris tries to create. Children eat free at Flanagan’s on Mondays and Tuesdays, and seniors 62 and up get a discount 3-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

“We have a lot of loyal customers,” Giokaris said. “It’s great to see the same faces all the time.”

Flanagan’s prides itself on offering good value for its diners. Giokaris said his “crack steak” (a New York strip marinated in 38 spices and crusted with cracked peppercorns) is “epically good,” and it is priced at about half of what a similar steak would sell for at other “upscale” restaurants. The chicken piccata is also a top seller, and the Guinness burger is a favorite as well.

There are a few other Irish-themed items on the menu, including Shepherd’s pie, Irish Reuben sandwiches, a corned beef burger and the aforementioned Guinness burger. Giokaris’ Greek ancestry makes an appearance on the menu in Greek salads and Mediterranean steak salad. The menu is updated at least once a year, with new items added and those that were less popular rotated out. There are about two dozen menu items that have been on the menu since Flanagan’s opened, Giokaris said.

Specials throughout the month keep things interesting, with weekday menu specials and evening drink specials. Flanagan’s bar patrons sit at an elevated circular bar adjacent to the main dining room, which is loaded with plenty of knickknacks. A three-season outdoor patio space keeps the party going in warmer weather, Giokaris said.

Giokaris is a second-generation restaurateur. The Lima, Ohio, native’s father, John Giokaris, who also owned the Buckingham Inn, opened the original Flanagan’s in Lima in 1986. When Pete Giokaris was about to graduate from the Ohio State University in 1989, the pair looked for a new city to open a second Flanagan’s and settled on Fort Wayne.

So how did the Greek family decide on an Irish theme and name? You can blame their architect.
“The architect who designed (the Lima restaurant) – his favorite pub in Ireland was a place called Flanagan’s,” Giokaris said.

Flanagan’s Restaurant and Pub
6525 Covington Road • (260) 432-6666
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner daily
Specialties: American pub food with an Irish twist

Flanagan’s Summer Burger and Steak Marinade

Serves 8

12 ounces au jus or beef base (concentrated beef stock)
2 ounces Worcestershire sauce
½ ounce A-1 Steak Sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients together and use to marinate steaks, burgers or other cuts of beef for yummy summer barbecues. Marinating cuts of meat tenderizes and adds flavor to your protein. Marinate meat in the refrigerator for at least four hours before cooking.

First appeared in the March 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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