Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, it’s a sure bet that a benevolent spirit inhabits the pub and dining room at J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern in Point Lookout.
John Anthony Heneghan has the kind of backstory deemed legendary among large Irish families. The son of Irish immigrants who fled the Great Famine for America, John was born November 27, 1929—just after the stock market crash—and was raised with three sisters in a coal-heated bungalow in a Bronx shantytown on the East River.
John earned his education on the streets and at Cardinal Hayes High School, and throughout his youth, he dreamed of becoming a fireman. Shortly after marrying his wife, Catherine, in 1953, he joined the New York City Fire Department, eventually rising to battalion chief. He forged deep friendships with his fellow firefighters and would share stories of their bravery with his family. When their six children were grown, John and Catherine moved to the beach community of Point Lookout and enjoyed spending time with their 39 grandchildren. John Anthony Heneghan succumbed to cancer in 2006.
“He was very much a patriarch, and a strong-willed, driven guy,” says Jack Heneghan, owner-manager of J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern, which opened in Point Lookout in September 2013. Heneghan is a low-key middle-aged man with a sturdy build and graying wisps of hair, who bears a striking resemblance to historic photos of his father.
“He loved his Irish heritage, loved Irish music and was very community oriented,” says Heneghan of his father. “Although not a big drinker, he was an Irish pub kind of guy.”
When Heneghan and two brothers decided to open a restaurant in Point Lookout as an investment, it was quickly decided that the family venture would pay tribute to their father.
“When we thought about naming the place, we canvased all the grandkids and almost unanimously they decided that naming it after him would be great,” says Heneghan. “A lot of his principles and the way he lived his life we hope to imbue here.”
Point Lookout is the very picture of a small-town beach community that has changed little in decades. Located on the eastern end of the barrier island also home to Long Beach, Point Lookout is a mere 0.2 square miles with a year-round population just shy of 1,500 residents. Once an isolated, rustic beach community, the streets were unpaved well into the 1940s. Today, walking and bike riding are still preferred to automobile travel.
J.A. Heneghan’s takes its role as a neighborhood gathering spot to heart, offering a variety of activities to engage the community. The tavern schedule is filled with trivia competitions, comedy nights and holiday brunches. A Mug Club membership encourages residents to “Come for the Beer—Stay for the Craic,” the Irish word for “the talk and banter of good company.”
J.A.’s presence is palpable throughout the tavern, as is a distinct family atmosphere. Mementos of his long career in firefighting decorate the pub room, including two fireman’s hatchets that intersect at the top of the stone fireplace mantle that divides the pub and the dining room. Original school artwork by Heneghan offspring is tacked to the refrigerator in the prep kitchen. Fourteen Heneghan grandchildren reside in Point Lookout and most have worked at the restaurant since it opened.
Read Entire Article at: Edible Long Island