J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern
57 Lido Blvd
Point Lookout, NY
Click here to see J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern’s menu
After almost a year of renovations, the long awaited grand opening of J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern and Restaurant was celebrated on September 12, 2013 in Point Lookout New York.
Located in the former residence of The Lazy Pelican restaurant, the building has seen a floor to ceiling, back to front entire renovation.
Named after the patriarch of the family, and grandfather of 39, the place has a stately, yet relaxed manner about it.
The Heneghan’s Tavern menu ranges from updated bar food to high-end steaks and chops.
On opening night I was greeted at the door by Hienz Posh, who helped me get the interview you are about to read(thanks!) I looked around to find many other familiar faces from around Point Lookout on the Staff as well. I ordered a beer. It arrived in a frozen mug! Nice touch. I’ll be spoiled by that real fast!
I wanted to know more about J. A. Heneghan’s.
I recently sat down with owner Kevin Heneghan to find out more.
“I am the oldest of six kids. J. A. Heneghan was my father. He was a New York City firefighter and became a battalion chief in the Bronx. I always wanted to be a firefighter but he had a rule -everybody goes to college, then you decide. He didn’t have any kids that (became) firefighters but I think we all grew up wanting to be a New York City fireman.
Three brothers are partners: Kevin, Jack and Jim “and each of (our) families is involved”.
“Another brother built that mantle on his farm in upstate New York. My sister owns a marina in Boothbay and they built that table in the dining room – they have a furniture shop as well.
My parents were pretty prodigious – they (got) 39 grandchildren from us six kids. It’s a very big family and we generally do things together. God has blessed us tremendously and put us in a position to do interesting things. This restaurant is one … that we were able to do.
“Our father died in 2006 but he made a lasting impression on his kids’ lives. We wanted to do this in terms of something in town and something in his memory.”
With the slowdown on Wall Street in 2008 Kevin’s brother took a package and left their firm.
Almost immediately, He felt compelled to look at town. “Knowing its a seafood town, he had a vision that maybe hamburgers and steaks would be a nice addition. He envisioned a place the people in town would consider their own….”
Turn belief into practice
Kevin says it’s not just the restaurant and a business, but it’s a “social enterprise” and he told me what that means to him.
“In the corporate world the standard you’re held to is to maximize profits.
“There’s a new way of business already happening in the developing world and it’s catching on here in the US. It is called the “social enterprise”. It’s not (just) about maximizing profits. The social enterprise has multiple bottom lines. If you arent profitable you’ll fail. So you have to make money; that’s only one of your bottom lines. You can have an environmental bottom line. Another bottom-line is the community impact. If we’re successful (local groups) can use this as a place… to have their fundraiser dinners and meetings and things like that. We can subsidize their dinners and gatherings. They might be loss leaders for us, but that’s the blended bottom line: the community gets to engage in the place.
“Another area is employees. If you’re maximizing profits you really run through your employees. You don’t get overly concerned about their education, their personal (wealth), their home, or their physical conditions. To have a social enterprise is to be conscious of the benefit of the employees.
“Then, what are you going to do with your profits? Do you do something with them to again turn it into social enterprise?”
He tells me of other causes and ways of fundraising they have in mind to let their customers dictate where they may want some of the profits to go. We both agreed that when they implement them I will be back to tell you about it.
Getting along with the neighbors.
Kevin tells me this isn’t about “beating” other enterprises in town. “Hopefully we have befriended everybody that’s around. We direct people over to the (Point) Ale House when it’s busy here, the Doheneys (Scotty’s /Buoy Bar) and Ted (Ted’s Fishing Station/Shell Shack) and Bruce (Larson -Fisherman’s Catch) I’d like to think they’re all personal friends.
The concept is…
“A place where … the quality of the food, the service, the presentation, is as good as anything you could find on this barrier island and hopefully further. We want to create a fundamentally fun place to come. Families can order french fries and hamburgers. If your friends want to come and sit in the roundtables and socialize, people would find it comforting to come to a place that’s a little bit quieter.
“The inside is much more relaxed and at ease and very tavern-like. When you walk inside (the dining room) you’re walking into a restaurant dining experience. But you shouldn’t feel like you walked into a different place.
Have you heard about the mug club?
For $75 you can join the mug club for a year. You get a J.A. Heneghan’s mug that has your name or initials on it. You also get a shirt as well. You go home – the mug stays here. When you come to the tavern every drink you order you get in your mug… and you may receive “consideration” for your loyalty- ask when you sign up. Every year there is a $25 renewal fee and you’ll get a new shirt. “We want the renewal fee to be there so that if there’s a waiting list, people have a chance to get one.” Sorry, no one under 24 need apply!
He tells me out of 250 mugs there’s only about 50 left so don’t delay!
He explains that in addition to many others, and with the support of the town he notes that the Point Lookout Civic Association went to bat for them to help get them open. He also says “another guy is Harvey Weisenberg – he just cares. I don’t even know the guy. He never asks you for money. You call him up and he helps.
“He wants to see people employed. He was a big supporter and I appreciate what you did for us, Harvey. ”
I ask what they didn’t expect, that has happened.
“Anticipation. I can not believe how many people were eagerly awaiting for this place to open. I can’t believe how supportive people are.
“It wasn’t like when people were walking in, it was to judge us. People were there to congratulate us. I cannot get over the response of the town.”
So, tell us about the food.
He tells me about head chef Nicole Roarke and her extensive resume. “We’re excited for many reasons. From the standpoint of a social enterprise I’m proud that she’s a woman. She wasn’t chosen because of that, she was chosen because of her vast experience, the references that we got on her … she’s also a instructor at the Culinary Institute of Suffolk County.”
“We had our kids and families and some friends at Jack’s house a summer or two ago and had Nicole come in and use Jack’s kitchen. She cooked 11 courses of food and served the group. We were blown away by the quality of the food. We knew what we had, we knew we had (the right person to anchor) a place.”
Some of those recipes are now on the menu.
He says thankfully she was patient while they went through the process to open.
Of the J.A. Heneghan’s menu :
“The Jameson- braised ribs are my favorite and that seems to be a favorite of others. The steaks have been great. From the hamburger to the fillet mignon, we are extremely happy that our original premise of having a meat restaurant in Point Lookout, as a distinguishing factor, is well received.”
Kevin also tells me about some incredible things that they want to do that I think people will love. So stay tuned, I promised him I would report on them when they implement them.
J.A. Heneghan’s is currently open for dinner only, at 5 pm daily, closed Tuesdays.