BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – PK’s Irish Pub on Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls recently celebrated 31 years and is now under new ownership. Paul Kane, who opened PK’s Public House in 1988, sold the pub to Brian Joy and Chelsea Peake in July.
Joy, a 1993 Bellows Falls graduate, joined the Marines and lived in Florida and Massachusetts before moving home with his children in 2016. Joy told Kane then if he ever planned to sell, he was interested. Joy reminisced, “PK’s was the first place I learned to pour a drink,” and “When I was a kid, my Uncle ‘Packy’ was a bartender.”
Kane had been quietly shopping for a new owner, but the most important thing was finding a buyer who knew the history and who understood and would preserve the culture of PK’s. Joy had previous experience in restaurant management, and shared, “I knew if I ever bought a bar it would be PK’s.”
Peake, originally from Johnson, worked for Patrick LeBlanc at Pleasant Valley. When it closed, both Peake and LeBlanc came to PK’s as bartenders, bringing live entertainment back to the pub.
While Joy managed the American Legion, Peake started bartending at PKs and has now been there for three years. They plan to keep the traditions, like the annual Ireland trip raffle to benefit Together We Can, and the traditional 9 a.m. opening for St. Patrick’s Day. On their Facebook page, it says, “The new, same ol’ PK’s.”
Some of the changes include removing the old hood from Sister’s Pizza and installing a 4K television with surround sound. In 2020, PK’s will be available again for beer and wine catering.
PK’s is still the place to be on the eve of Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, and Alumni Weekend and where weddings, wakes, and deployments have been celebrated. Joy said PK’s was his first stop when he came home to visit, and it held sentimental value when he wasn’t living here.
Paul Kane elaborated on that feeling as being there from the beginning. Kane said, “Opening day coincided with a Bellows Falls-Fall Mountain high school football game and it became the locals’ place.”
Currently, there are six beers and one cider on tap and, of course, Guinness will always be served. Most weekends offer live music, and higher end entertainment has been booked with SIRSY playing Jan. 3. On Nov. 16, they host their first restaurant truck pop-up with Jamaican Jewelz.
Irish, sports memorabilia, autographs from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Boston Red Sox’s Carlton Fisk, Shaquille O’Neal’s sneaker, and military and EMS patches from around the country adorn the walls. One piece of the old bar remains, prominently displaying the bar placards of so many locals, some of whom are no longer with us.
Musicians like Grace Potter and Jandee Lee Porter began their careers in the original sized pub, which Kane said most people thought was too small. His time in England and Ireland and the cottage windows inspired the Irish pub, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For now, Kane looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and is happy to see Joy and Peake’s touches, knowing, “It will always be PK’s because of the institution it is.”