By Maddy Vitale
A customer walking into Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point might feel as if he or she crossed over “the pond.”
Irish music fills the air, as people sit at communal tables, making it nearly impossible not to start a conversation with a stranger.
Waitresses and bartenders greet patrons with warm smiles. A rustic wood finish on the floors, bars and tables and a patina ceiling transform the rooms into an old-style Irish pub.
Dermot Lloyd, 44, and his wife, Kathleen, 35, of Linwood, who have three young boys, opened Josie Kelly’s on Aug. 15 to a very welcoming community, the couple said Tuesday night during their official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“The support from Somers Point has been wonderful,” Dermot Lloyd said. “The business community, and the city, have been very welcoming.”
Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser attended the ceremony. He said the new establishment is close to his heart, because of his Irish heritage.
“It is wonderful to see them in Somers Point,” Glasser said as he spoke with the Lloyds and their business partner, Peter Kiernan. “Somers Point welcomes new businesses.”
Some features of Josie Kelly’s are live music, events, including whiskey and scotch tastings, a whiskey bar upstairs, a wide array of lagers and ales, a large room for functions and ample seating throughout.
The menu has a lot to choose from, from Irish fare to American cuisine. There is ample parking on the side of the restaurant and across the street.
Dermot Lloyd and Kiernan, 39, of Charlotte, N.C., decided to open Josie Kelly’s after the two met in 2015 and immediately became friends.
Lloyd is from Limerick, Ireland. Kiernan is from Dublin, Ireland. Yet the two entrepreneurs met, ironically, when Lloyd was managing pubs in North Carolina. Opening Josie Kelly’s, named in honor of Dermot Lloyd’s grandmother, has been a lot of work, but a venture, the two said, they are thrilled about.
“When we went in together, at first it was daunting,” Kiernan said of the new business venture. “But the welcoming response by Somers Point has been humbling.”
Lloyd said in choosing a location to open the business, one thing that attracted them was the positive response by Somers Point officials, including Glasser. The other reason, from a business standpoint, was the fact that establishments, such as the Anchorage Tavern and Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar, have been extremely successful in the community for many years.
While the Lloyds and Kiernan are settling in and creating a lively atmosphere filled with Irish music, dance and good food, Kathleen Lloyd said when they first opened in August it wasn’t quite the right time to have a grand opening.
“We had so much to do,” she said.
The Ventnor native and hairdresser, who met her husband when he came into her salon for a haircut, said they are really pleased with how improvements to the pub came out and love the community.
She flipped through her cellphone photos to show the transformation from several months ago when they began their journey into renovating dated décor left over from the former restaurant at that site.
“It has been a labor of love,” Kathleen Lloyd said with a wide smile.
Josie Kelly’s Public House is located at 908 Shore Road in Somers Point. For more information call (609) 904-6485.