Today, I learned some very sad news. Finnigan’s Wake will be closing its doors permanently on October 30. Finnigan’s Wake is THE reason the Arts District in Downtown Winston-Salem exploded in to ’00s. Yes, there were other now-staples such as Sweet Potatoes and 6th & Vine, but none had the impact that Fins did. But, for me, the impact was even more than reinvigorating an area of town.
Practically nothing in my life right now would be like it is if it weren’t for Fins. How, you ask?
I was able to realize what others may say is ridiculous but something I’m very proud of. I was the second-ever person to join the 90-Day Club. Not only did I do 90 days, I did 1099 days. That got me some recognition and status.
I was “Trivia Tim.” I didn’t start the pub trivia at Fins but I took it over after the first three weeks and I did it for six years after. Again, people got to know me, spend time with me, and my network was greatly and largely expanded because of that.
The Less Desirables was conceived, hatched, and born sitting at the high-top table right next to the hallway. Without that, I probably wouldn’t have started other podcasts after it. No Fan Interference. No Camel City Dispatch/Electric Camel Pod. No Tart & Tangy Triad. No The Beer Dads. No The Man Who Ate the Town. No Sipping NC: The Art of Drinking. No Apartment 5B. No Beeswax Vinyl. No Beeswax Vinyl Daily. No Asylum – Tales from the Devereaux Diaries. No Wheelers Dog. No The Less Desirables Network. No podcast clients. Heck without Fins, there may not be a podcasting community here in WSNC to speak of, at least as it is. I know two or three podcasts in town that are thriving because they were inspired by me doing The Less Desirables (or one of the others) and they’ve told me that. No podcasting would mean no “Podfather.” All that I am and do wouldn’t be if there was no Finnigan’s Wake. In fact, the first place I ever met Brian Attridge who started The Less Desirables with me, was at Finnigan’s Wake.
The revitalization of downtown, in general, may still have happened but it wouldn’t be what it is if Philip “Opie” Kirby and John Cahoon hadn’t opened THE Irish pub in October of 2006.
The first place I met Jon Lowder, one of the Beer Dads and a partner/friend that I have come to thank for many of my accomplishments was at Fins.
Several of my friends who are in relationships met at Finnigan’s Wake. Which brings me to the BIGGEST link that Fins has for me: I met my wife, The BCPF, Stephanie, at Finnigan’s Wake. If she hadn’t come with her friends to play trivia and get away from her toxic, dead-end marriage, and we hadn’t started having small talk conversations, I would never have had the opportunity to ask her, “Are you married, Steph?” That conversation and the fact that she had a birthday soon around that time and I did a special trivia category for her, led to us having our 11:10p nightly computer conversations, which led to us being great friends, which led to us being more than friends, which led to us being affianced, which led to us being life partners and husband and wife.
Finnigan’s Wake is the portal to my survival, to my life, to my being, to my loves. I so appreciate that Opie has kept the pub going for so long. The pandemic was hard for everyone. It led to changes within the business. But, he says it’s not about the pandemic. He said the restaurant was kept alive by the community and patrons. He says this is about him and wanting to start something new. Move in a new direction. Pursue new ideas and thoughts. He has been all over the world. As far as I know, he’s touched every continent. If he’s missing one, I think it’s Australia. He’s bought houses. He’s raised money for charities. He’s made himself better. He’s made the community better. I am glad for my friend that he’s okay and just starting a new chapter.
When I read that this was happening, it felt as if I had lost a friend, or at the very least, been kicked in the teeth or the crotch. The memories and recollections of the last 14 years of my life (with the exception of the last one) have relied heavily on my time in the wooden doors under the green sign with the huge Claddagh, the hallowed halls of Finnigan’s Wake. Slàinte mhath, Finnigan’s Wake. Slàinte mhath.
Until tomorrow, Erin go Bragh…
“The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you.” – Brendan Behan