MURRAY HILL — An Irish pub with deep New York City roots launched its newest location in Murray Hill last week.
Pig ‘n’ Whistle, which was first opened by Ireland native John Mahon in 1969, now has five spots in Midtown, including that the one at 497 Third Ave. near East 34th Street that opened June 20.
Pig ‘n’ Whistle’s distinctive name was inspired by Mahon’s maiden voyage to New York on the Queen Mary, Ken McCoy, who co-owns three Pig 'n' Whistle locations with Mahon, explained. Pig ‘n’ Whistle referred to the crew’s recreation space, where Mahon snuck after finding his fellow passengers too stuffy.
“It’s an interesting time to open in the summer,” said McCoy, 37, who is originally from Limerick, Ireland, and now lives in Connecticut. “It will be a summer of discovery for us, and we’ll be rock-and-rolling come September.”
Mahon opened the first Pig 'n' Whistle in Inwood in 1969, but the location lasted less than a year. Mahon tried again on West 48th Street in Rockefeller Center a year later, and that one did better, lasting until the 1980s, and he has continued to open new spots.
McCoy said he had been searching for another Pig 'n' Whistle location in the Grand Central area for nearly three years, and he was thrilled to find the new Third Avenue spot, the former home of the Patrick Kavanagh Pub.
The space already had the basics — a long bar and room for tables along the side and at the back — and it's wider than the average New York City storefront, leaving more elbowroom and creating a more comfortable, social atmosphere.
Pig ‘n’ Whistle updated the design, raising the ceilings and installing antique mirrors. McCoy also added a "snug," a fixture in traditional pubs in Ireland. The private enclosure, made of handcrafted carpentry, stained glass and a waist-high swinging door, gives groups of five or six access to their own television and a more intimate setting.
For larger groups, Pig ‘n’ Whistle can host private parties of up to 50 people.
While Pig ‘n’ Whistle’s other locations draw office workers, McCoy said he hopes to attract a mix of local residents, professionals and tourists staying at nearby hotels to the latest spot.
“I love the vibe,” he said of Murray Hill. “The streets are really busy, and it’s definitely young, but it’s not all 20-somethings.”
Pig ‘n’ Whistle’s lunch and dinner menus feature Irish pub staples such as burgers, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash, along with salads, sandwiches, chicken fajitas and blackened Atlantic salmon filet. Weekend brunch offerings include lunch dishes as well as Irish breakfast and an omelet bar.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” McCoy said, a theme that encompasses everything from Pig ‘n’ Whistle’s daily entertainment lineup — a DJ on busier nights, Wednesday karaoke and traditional Irish music on Sunday nights — to its atmosphere.
“People can come in, watch sports, have a quiet drink in the back or interact more at the bar,” he said. “It’s a good mix.”