New pergola at JK O’Donnell due to open this summer

The converted parking lot will become part of the nightlife in the streets of the city center

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – A popular downtown dive bar is planning to build a pergola behind its restaurant so more customers can enjoy a beer and other outdoor pub activities.

JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House submitted plans to the Allen County Plan Commission to install a 2,700 square foot retractable awning on the back of the restaurant at 121 W. Wayne St. It will cover a renovated parking lot with artificial grass.

Cari Bean, the restaurant’s owner, said the outdoor grow was in the planning before the pandemic halted the “alley activations” that had just begun downtown. The back door will connect to an alley running east-west from Calhoun Street to Harrison Street. There are currently two murals, one at each end of the alley.

Downtown’s wide lanes, ignored prior to the recent downtown renaissance, are now becoming part of the scene with artwork and lighting.

This summer, the rear parking lot at JK O’Donnell’s on West Wayne Street will be renovated with a pergola and artificial turf for a new dining and entertainment experience.

Bean said the new outdoor space will feature “lounge-like seating, tables and chairs with artificial grass” with its own kitchen and bar.

JK O’Donnell’s, a 15-year downtown restaurant and pub, hosted “huge attendances” during the 2022 World Cup, General Manager Sean McCarthy said.

The rear annex, currently a parking lot, will be a good spot to put up a retractable screen showing football games and soccer games, as well as a casual “meeting place” for all ages, Bean added. It had hoped to open by St. Patrick’s Day, but the debut for the $1 million-plus addition will most likely happen this summer.

“We want to improve outdoor dining in Fort Wayne,” McCarthy said at the restaurant on Wednesday. “Having the entire back lot area, having different foods and drinks out there. I used to live in Minneapolis and everywhere you go there’s an outdoor patio and rooftop bars. I think it’s great that Fort Wayne is really growing with it. We just want to be a part of it.”

JK O’Donnell general manager Sean McCarthy says the huge crowds the pub entertained during the World Cup is an indication of the need for a casual area for watching football and soccer games.

O’Donnell representatives are scheduled to submit a waiver for an ancillary structure exceeding 25% of the ground floor area of ​​the main building at the Jan. 9 planning meeting.

“The space is no longer used for parking, which reduces car traffic in the alley,” the application reads. “A retractable awning reduces the set-up, tear-down and permitting required for tents.”

According to the application, the city asked O’Donnell’s to convert the site from a parking lot to an outdoor venue. It is said that this happened “on several occasions” with temporary tents.

“A retractable awning encourages increased occupancy and enhances the core downtown area by promoting an active, attractive, pedestrian-friendly environment and the unique character of downtown. The location is only visible from the alley,” the application reads.

Seating in the main pub will remain the same, Bean said, including the closed sidewalk dining area on West Wayne Street.

“If the waiver is not granted, the owner’s ability to host events in this space will be severely limited due to cost, coordination, permitting, manpower, and tent availability,” the motion reads. “The proposed retractable awning can be opened and closed by the owner in minutes, increasing utilization of the expanded dining and event space.” New pergola at JK O’Donnell due to open this summer

Dais Johnston

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