Last week, locals packed McSwiggan’s in Hoboken amid clinking glasses and well-wishes as the popular neighborhood bar once again opened for business. The bar was closed in January after a devastating three-alarm fire completely destroyed the ground floor bar and three apartments at the 110 First St. building.
A scant eight months later, the building has been rebuilt, and the once cozy pub has been transformed into a stunning European inspired bar and café.
The bar now boasts high ceilings that have an open lattice design of boards, making one think of ski lodges. The bar that was once separated into two rooms by a fireplace is now one large spacious room that glows with 50 feet of high definition plasmas and custom designed recessed lighting. On opening night, many locals who once frequented the place commented that the pub “looks amazing” and is “hardly recognizable.”
One such Hoboken resident, Dan Galliardi, described the bar as “stunning.”
“It looks absolutely gorgeous,” said Galliardi. “I just don’t want it to lose the family feel it had before.”
Owner Aidan Boyle, who is originally from Mayo in Ireland, did most of the work himself and fashioned it after places he had seen in his former home in Ireland. Boyle opened McSwiggan’s in February 1999, after he and his wife spent years working many jobs to make their dream of owing their own place a reality.
“At first, my thought was just – give me back what I lost,” said Boyle about the initial construction, “and then I thought – let’s do it right.”
He added, “I started with the floor and the ceiling and it came together with what you see now. Many [design ideas] were written on cocktail napkins.”
Another highlight is the folding French doors, which open up to the beautiful outdoor courtyard and allow customers to easily step to and from the bar area. The café is decorated with over flowing hanging baskets and old fashioned lamps, which give it old world charm.
“Literally, that ceiling design popped into my head and if you see – it matches the floor,” said Boyle as he pointed to the zigzag wood planks that are inlayed in the stone floor.
According to Boyle, the retractable bright red awning on the side of the building is the kind found in European cafes. “So it’s a little bit of Europe in Hoboken,” he said.
Something old, something new
While the bar is resplendent in charm, Boyle said that the pub has kept things that customers have grown to enjoy – like the dart boards and pool table. In addition, the bar has a full NFL package, a DJ Thursday to Saturday, and a projection screen with Wii.
However, the menu has been expanded to include dinner salads, pastas, and sandwiches, not just bar food.
“You are never going to come here to impress you future wife, but it’s a bar with good food,” said Boyle with a laugh.
The restaurant will be open everyday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. On opening night, Boyle and his wife Audrey graciously accepted compliments from the happy crowd.
He said that the town was incredibly generous and helpful during the rebuilding process, especially the Building Department and the Zoning Board. “It feels great – absolutely great to have people back in here again,” said Boyle.
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