Celtic Crossing knows authentic

[singlepic id=161 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=right]By Aaron James

Two things that Ireland and the South have in common are a warm, genuine hospitality and cooking so delectable that it’s actually called “soul.” And no place in Cooper-Young exemplifies both of these traits quite like Celtic Crossing on the northwest corner of Cooper and Oliver.

And it may seem odd, but even though I penned the above sentiment weeks before my interview with Celtic’s very busy owner, DJ Naylor, once we finally found a second to talk, this is exactly the feel I got from him. Originally from Ireland (really?), DJ moved to Memphis in 2001 to join other home-country friends who had found the southern vibe welcoming. Eventually, he and this rowdy band of soccer-loving miscreants decided Midtown needed a fine Irish pub, and man, did they ever give us one!

Opened in 2005, the interior of Celtic retains much of the charm of the original Craftsman-style residence. When I was growing up on Felix, this was the site of Hardwood Arms, a local gun dealer. Instead of a patio, try to imagine the front yard sporting a pole-mounted anti-aircraft gun! No walk to or from Fairview was complete without a bit of WW-II reenactment! Now, no Monday is complete without catching up with friends on the patio at Pint Night!

Lucky for us, DJ, who by his own count has traveled to some 70–80 different countries so far, always makes a point of seeking out the local Irish pub. He has found that good food, warm hospitality, and a little splash for the gullet, are always a certainty. When asked for a quote regarding his philosophy for Celtic, he summed it up nicely by saying, “If I walked in these doors, what would I want?” Being something of an aficionado myself, I can tell you he has hit the authentic Irish pub nail on the head.

In fact, the only thing bad I can say about Celtic is that it’s a shame I don’t live upstairs.  But maybe that’s a good thing, since a quarter century of similar indulgences have already pushed me closer to the edge than is healthy.  A life with such a ready access to Guinness and great food (did I mention the adorable wait staff?) would surely send me right on over—but man, what a lovely way to go!

For more information, visit celticcrossingmemphis.com. And feel free to let everyone know your opinion about Celtic Crossing at lamplighter.cooperyoung.org.

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