Finnegan’s Opens, Offers Live Music In Hoboken

A welcome change from the usual news about upscale chains or horrid sports bars opening in town.

Finnegan's in Hoboken

There was something stirring on Willow Avenue in Hoboken recently. Rumors had been floating around about the future of a local bar called Rogo’s. I had heard that the place was sold to a guy that wanted to bring more music to the neighborhood. Yeah right. I didn’t believe it. I’m jaded. Thanks in large part to the closing of favorite bars and the popping up of gaudy chains or horrific sports bars, I’ve come to expect little from what most of what Hoboken now calls ‘night life’.

As time passed, I’d forgotten about it. And then it happened.

I rode my bike down Willow as I do most nights and noticed that the front of Rogo’s had indeed changed. Gone was the dark, monkey-shit-colored pseudo club facade, replaced by a brighter pub facelift. The window which had always been obscured by one thing or another was now clear. The whole exterior space — which used to be just a shade darker than sketchy — was now lighted brightly with floods. In place of the former scrabble-like letters that spelled out the old name was a more classic looking Irish sign spelling out the new name; Finnegan’s (734 Willow Ave Hoboken).

To be fair, I’d never actually been in Rogo’s so I can’t say for certain what type of place it was. Because of the unwelcoming exterior, I never felt compelled to walk in. This section of Willow Ave between 7th and 8th street always seemed a bit dreary. To me, there was always something sorta seedy about the place. The fact that it was so dark outside and I couldn’t see inside just never inspired me to find out what was going on in there.

However, now there’s a welcome change in the neighborhood.

The first thing I noticed was how the exterior beckons people to come inside. Once thru the doors, I was greeted with a feeling of belonging. Smiles from the staff and their new boss Eoin Finnegan who I’d never met before but still immediately felt welcomed.

Aside from the brighter, more welcoming feel to the space, there was a promise of a new music venue that had accompanied the rumors surrounding this new place. In fact there was music here on this night. My buddy Rob Nicholas was asked to perform a last-minute solo gig. It was a kind of test run to see just how live music would work here. I have to say that — even in this early stage of the concept — it worked out quite well.

Nothing fancy. A single guitar amp and vocals that ran thru the leftover DJ sound system. Speakers ran along the length of the bar, filling the room nicely with sound while never being too overbearing. With a few bugs to work out like how the place can support full bands (a goal they’ve set for themselves) they are off to a very good start.

New owner Eoin is a musician himself. After Rob’s set of wonderful island-tinged tunes, he picked up the guitar to strum out a couple of songs himself. He tells me he wants the upstairs to be used as a more intimate lounge where musicians can jam and hang. A new spot for a writers hang sorta night. Something I’m really looking forward to.

So, it looks as though I’ve found a new gem of a watering hole in town. One that supports original live music to boot. Yes there’s the wall of televisions so folks can watch whatever games they want to watch. There’s a pool table and darts in the back room. These have become staples in a lot of bar these days but they don’t have to be the sole focus.

What Eoin has created with Finnegan’s is a nice balance between getting people thru the doors and making them feel welcome once inside. Whether you’re looking for sports or music or dinner or whatever. Most of these new upscale pre-fab chains or horrible sports asylums popping up around town seem to miss those crucial parts of the equation. This however is one bar changeover in Hoboken that I can totally support.

On a side note; I haven’t tried the food yet but friends say it’s pretty good.

See Also:
Rob Nicholas

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One Response to “Finnegan’s Opens, Offers Live Music In Hoboken”

  1. Jeff
    10/06/13 at 11:27 am #

    Sounds awesome! Can’t wait to check it out.

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