March 17th is a day of Irish heritage, delicious food, and of course lots of beer! While many establishments can provide you with food and drink, there’s no better place to celebrate this shamrock filled holiday than Wooly’s Neighborhood Celtic Pub, located in the west end of Johnstown. Visit Johnstown made the trip out to Wooly’s to get a bite to eat and to talk to Dan Wallace, who runs the restaurant alongside his wife Kathy. Dan is a person that’s full of heart, and he’s very passionate about, as Dan refers to it, the “kickass” food that they serve. “Everything you get on our menu is fresh and never frozen, and the ingredients we put into our food will have you leaving full, with a smile on your face.”
When we first entered the little pub I was captivated by the charming décor; suits of armor, Irish memorabilia, shamrocks, and even a leprechaun seated on the bar counter. The overall charm of Wooly’s will draw you in from the second you cross the threshold into the bar area. When glancing through the menu we noticed it was pretty straightforward, in the best way possible. Burgers, sandwiches, and fries; you really can’t go wrong here! For our dinner we ordered two strikingly different burgers: the “Wooly Burger” and the “Guinness Burger”. Right off the bat you can tell why these were named “Simply the Best Burgers in Johnstown”. This title sounds nice enough, but it’s no joke. The burgers they serve are gigantic, filled to the brim with fresh toppings, and served with a heaping helping of their fresh-cut fries. To go with the burger we quenched our thirst with their blue raspberry/black raspberry alcoholic slushy, which was a perfectly sweet complement to the savory flavor of our burgers.
My coworker Lindsay Arcuri, had the Guinness Burger; a beef patty with coleslaw and barbecue sauce made from, you guessed it, Guinness beer! She said, “The burger is loaded with great flavor and the dry slaw adds the perfect touch. A side of ‘Wooly’s Sauce’ for your fries or chips is a must!” Wooly’s sauce is a delicious addition to any menu item at the pub. They make the sauce from scratch in house and it’s the finishing touch to their signature “Wooly Burger”, which I had for my meal. The Wooly Burger is their #1 favorite on the menu and it was superb. The burger was cooked just right and the crisp lettuce and tangy Wooly’s Sauce were the perfect topper to this already delicious burger. I also had a side of their fresh cut chips and it was a great addition to the meal. Wooly’s does potatoes right, Wallace mentioned that “the only thing that goes into our fryer are potatoes which keeps them crisp and free of flavor contamination from other foods”.
After dinner we chatted a bit more with Dan about the upcoming holiday and, even with the current restrictions hovering over restaurants, he is hopeful that they’ll still be able to have a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day event. “In the past we’ve had the event where people would show up with their tattoos and outfits and sometimes even bring their own bands, it was always a great crowd and a lot of fun…this year we don’t want to limit our restaurant to only 25 people; we want it to be an event that people circulate through to have a good time while they’re here.”
Wooly’s plans to have their doors open from 11AM – 8PM on St. Patrick’s Day and will host as many people as they are able throughout the day. “We’re going to have lots of great food and Irish music will be pumped through the restaurant. We’ll have Guinness, Harp (their beer on tap), Irish coffee/tea, Irish whiskey, potato soup, shepherd’s pie, Yuengling beer-battered fish and chips, Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, potato pancakes, and leek soup” says Wallace. The overall atmosphere will be “very clean with an Irish theme; Celtic décor, and delicious food.”
It’s encouraging to see restaurants adapt to the ever-changing restrictions that appear to be the new normal. Johnstown is in need of more events like this to strengthen the community and better develop a feeling of events from times gone by. Dan is a Johnstowner at heart and when asked what he loves about being located here, he said this in response, “Honestly the best part of being a business owner in Johnstown is the people, all the patrons that come in are just great... hard working individuals that want to come into the restaurant after a long day at work for good food and a cold beer.” We’ll surely be stopping back in to Wooly’s in the near future, the food, service, and atmosphere are just too welcoming to pass up. Don’t believe us? Make a trip to Wooly’s for your next meal and see for yourself!