By now, you’ve heard the great news: Trinity Bar is back.
You’ve already heard the facts. The fire which broke out nearly two years ago. The struggles with cleanup and renovations. The fear that customers would not return.
The triumphant return.
But I want to talk about something else: I want to talk about family. About community. About how a bar can become a home.
First, we have to go back in time.
A Place Called O’Toole’s
Before Trinity, there was O’Toole’s. And I… was not a fan.
In those days, Anna Liffey’s was the spot. It was regularly packed, especially on weekends and during kickball Sundays. If you didn’t have a plan, you went downstairs to Liffey’s. You’d already know half the people there.
O’Toole’s was a newer, fancier Irish pub, but it never spoke to me. The beers were kind of expensive. The location was weird. I don’t know. It just never connected with me.
Meanwhile, things at Liffey’s had gotten a bit… well, we won’t get into it. But the smell coming from the bathrooms was getting worse. Things felt a little… off. People had moved on.
I won’t get into any behind-the-scenes drama, but some Liffey’s employees were ready to move on, and it just so happened that O’Toole’s was selling.
The Trinity Bar is Born
In the beginning, at least in my mind, Trinity Bar was basically just O’Toole’s with a new name. A slightly better name, certainly, but it looked the same. It seemed the same. It didn’t fulfill any purpose for me.
I never imagined how much it would come to mean to me.
I think my buddy British (American now!) Dave convinced me to hang out there. He was all like oh you gotta meet Eddie and Shane they’re great. But he’s English so honestly what does he know besides the rules of cricket which honestly I am half-convinced are made up.
Yet he talked me into stopping by now and again. We’d grab a beer or two. Maybe a snack. Nothing too crazy.
They wouldn’t let me watch the Buffalo Sabres, but honestly fair enough. It was a cool enough bar.
It was slowly seeping into me and I didn’t even realize it.
Then, Liverpool New Haven — a local fan club of the greatest soccer club in the whole world — decided to move on from Anna Liffey’s and to Trinity Bar.
A New Era at Trinity
Suddenly, I was spending Saturday or Sunday mornings with my friends, watching soccer at Trinity. There’s nothing quite like that first beer at 10am to kick off your Saturday morning.
Once you eat a few brunches, you realize the food at Trinity is… surprisingly good. Especially for pub grub. There are very, very few places you can watch sports AND get a good meal.
I began to get to know Eddie. A great guy, in spite of being a Manchester United fan. (We’re all deeply flawed, right.)
It began to seep into my blood. This was my home bar. I don’t know how it happened. It just… was.
You didn’t need a plan. You could just show up. Even if you were by yourself. The bartenders knew me. The staff knew me. The other bar drunks knew me.
You could start or end your night there. You could spend happy hour on the patio, or Friday night dancing to cover songs.
Heck, they even let me do open mic comedy there once or twice before someone told too many dick jokes while someone was trying to eat dinner. (Sorry, fellas.)
And Then It Was Gone
It’s true, they say, that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
When the fire hit, it was devastating. I couldn’t believe Trinity Bar was gone.
They assured me they’d come back. That the damage wasn’t too bad. But weeks become months. Months became a year. I had my doubts.
There were insurance troubles. Water damage. Entropy. (My least favorite Law of Thermodynamics, honestly.)
I waited and waited and waited.
In the meantime, I changed. My life changed.
I quit drinking alcohol. I moved away from Downtown into Edgewood, where I purchased a home. Would I even need Trinity? Would it even be the same?
Like Coming Home Again
When I found out it would be open last week, I was ecstatic. Maybe less for myself, and more for my friends. But I was still afraid. What if it wasn’t the same? I mean, if you don’t drink, what even is the point of a bar?
But walking back in was like coming home again.
A wave of emotions came over me. I couldn’t help but smile. Me! Smiling! On a Wednesday!
The familiar faces. The smell of fish and chips. The warm sun (okay, warm-ish rain) on your face on the patio. The inexplicable cigarette machine.
I came to realize how irreplaceable Trinity is. Sure, other bars have good food. Or TV’s. Or people with Irish accents.
Trinity Bar is, somehow, more than the sum of its parts. It’s the people. The collective, brilliant human beings who make it what it is.
Just sitting in that porch, with my friends, enjoying that moment. It was everything I’d missed.
Supporting a business I believe in, that welcomes me with open arms, that listens to me and makes fun of me for being a Buffalo Sabres fan. That’s love.
When the Trinity burned, it left a gaping hole in the middle of New Haven. And in my heart.
Now, they’re both full again.