GLASTONBURY – While not decked out in shamrock and emerald green, Flynn’s Grill plays with its Irish roots, offering a collection of Irish and American fare for breakfast and lunch.
Flynn’s Grill was opened seven years ago by its namesake, Enda Flynn, who started the restaurant after working for 30 years in the kitchen of the Hawthorne Inn on the Berlin Turnpike.
“They sold and I wanted to spend time with my kids,” he said. “It worked really well. I got to see my kids at university. My last just graduated from high school. At the Hawthorne Inn, I went out at 11 at night and they were in bed.
A resident of South Glastonbury, Flynn said another plus is that he lives just two minutes from the restaurant.
“I wanted it near my home,” he said of the restaurant. “I remodeled it. It was a piece of furniture before it became a breakfast / lunch place. It was an investment, but it’s your own business, and if you don’t want it, you sell it and walk away from it.
“I am really proud that my husband is making one of his dreams come true and opening his own home,” said Flynn’s wife Karen. “I love his cooking. I come here every morning. I like everything. I love his chili. I love his omelets.
Unlike more stereotypical Irish restaurants, Flynn’s Grill eschews the traditional emerald green and shamrock patterns, instead painting the room a light sky blue with predominantly dark blue wooden seating and furniture. The more subtle Irish theme is reflected in the photos of Ireland which were printed on canvas and hung like paintings around the restaurant.
Aside from the 15 months that have weakened the restaurant industry across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Flynn said that for the rest of the time, business has been “really good.”
“Now we are trying to achieve it again,” he said. “There are a lot of things working against restaurants right now.”
He said some of the issues he currently faces are the continued shortage of employees restaurants across the country face and soaring food prices.
“Most people are unemployed and then they earn more,” Flynn said. “I don’t blame anyone, but there is no incentive to come back to work.
“Everything is increasing,” he said of food prices. “You name it, whatever it is, it’s going up. Lobster, I can’t even bring back any, because it goes through the roof.
He said he wanted to keep prices low and avoid the more expensive food items, as much of his clientele is older.
“I know that my clientele is rather old, I am tied to the price level,” he said. “I can’t go too crazy because they have a fixed income.”
However, some basic Irish dishes are still on the menu.
“We do Irish meals here and we do American cuisine,” he said. “Corned beef and cabbage, roast leg of lamb, Irish bacon and sausage, Irish soda bread.”
For lunch, he said, most people enjoy Reuben sandwiches, burgers, pastrami or scallops.
“The seared scallops are really good,” he said.
For breakfast, Flynn said omelets are the best-selling, including western and hash varieties.
“I try to do a lot of different stages,” said Flynn. “Caesar wrap with chicken or grilled salmon. I tried to bring in things that my competition wouldn’t even touch. We try to keep the price low and move the product very quickly. They can get a lobster omelet, when it was on the menu. You can get prosciutto shrimp (benedict), something a little more sophisticated than the normal two fried eggs.
Flynn said his burgers were as good or better than anyone else, mainly because people can always choose how their burgers are cooked – from rare to well done.
“Most places it’s pink or not pink,” he said.
With the restaurant now open at full capacity and restrictions lifted, groups such as former Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant workers are returning together for their monthly breakfast. The factory, which was located in Haddam, closed in 1996.
“It’s a great place for bands like us to meet,” said John Ferguson of Glastonbury.
“We chose the location because the service is good here,” said Gary Tylinski from Lebanon. “Lots of coffee, the food is always good, very accommodating.
“I’m coming for the omelets,” said Ryan Gosse of Colchester, who is Karen Flynn’s uncle. “I get one with kielbasa and onion. Real authentic Irish hash here.
With the pandemic declining, Flynn said he hopes to return to how business has been for the restaurant’s first six years.
“It’s a tough place,” he admitted. “It’s a destination. There are so many reasons to come to South Glastonbury.
He said part of getting back on the road is training new staff.
“I’m training new servers,” he says. “Restaurants are not like flipping a switch. There are several steps to get back to where you were. Experienced restaurateurs, they don’t come back. Right now all I have are middle school and high school kids. Without them, I don’t know if we would be as open as we are.