Neighborhood pub strives to ‘keep it fresh’

By Judy Neal

DJ Naylor likes Celtic Crossing’s title as the favorite neighborhood bar, and he doesn’t take that accolade for granted.

“I like to keep it fresh,” he tells me. “When people come in, I want them to say ‘Hey, that’s new!’””

Celtic Crossing has been at its location at 903 Cooper since taking over the Glass Onion property in 2005. Naylor, who grew up in Ireland, explained that he and his friends got tired of looking for an authentic Irish pub, so they decided to create their own. Naylor took care of the financing, and his partners contributed in sweat equity. They had great fun but soon realized that it is difficult to make business decisions by committee.

When Naylor and his wife Jamie bought out their partners in 2009, they began making many of the changes we see today. The patio has been a great addition. The non-smoking policy boosted the restaurant’s family-friendly reputation. Jamie’s landscaping has made the place more inviting. The Naylors want to have the best-looking storefront in Cooper-Young – inside and out.

“I wish I had more time for gardening,” Jamie says. “This is like a second home to us. I want it to have good curb appeal.”

Naylor beams when he talks about the pub’s look.

“Everything you see here is authentic. The art and photos on the wall are originals,” he says, pointing to a group of framed photographs behind our table. “These photographs were made by my dad.”

The Naylors travel to Ireland a couple of times a year, and they always come back with something new for Celtic Crossing. It may be décor, recipes, or just new ideas, but it is always something to reinvigorate the pub and surprise the customers.

The Celtic Crossing menu features traditional fare like fish and chips and offers some interesting twists on southern favorites. For instance, shrimp and grits with Irish sausage or Irish nachos — a bed of fries smothered in white cheddar and topped with corned beef.

You can hear live music on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings. Wednesday is trivia night, and you can now have brunch on Saturday as well as Sunday. Thursday night is Cooper-Young night. Members of the CYCA get a 10% discount.

The Naylors appreciate Cooper-Young and love that they have many “regulars.” Celtic Crossing is the go to place for watching international soccer.

“For the 2006 World Cup, we had about 30 to 40 viewers,” he says. “In 2010, it was 300. In 2014 it was like a St. Patrick’s Day madhouse.”

During the World Cup, the pub features food and beer of the host country. World Cup aside, there is often a crowd at Celtic Crossing watching soccer.

Naylor let me know that they tune in women’s soccer, too.

The Naylors have created a welcoming place with a little something for everyone in the neighborhood.

“I want to keep it fresh, keep people coming back,” Naylor says. “Change is good. I want to keep it rolling stay relevant.”

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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