Scott Vocca has been playing music at Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub for over 14 years, longer than anyone else in the bar’s 20-year history. Heck, longer than any other musician at any of the Irish pubs in the area. It’s where he met his future wife, also an Irish musician.
And for much of that time, he thought it would be nice to own the bar. This past February, he bought it.
And then in May, he and the other tenants of the small strip of shops were informed that the owner had sold the property and all the businesses would have to vacate the premises because the building would be razed to make way for a Walgreens. Because we don't have enough Walgreens.
So Claddagh Cottage and its neighbors, which include a funeral director and a smoke shop, will have to move. When, however, has not been decided. They’ve been told that they will be given a 60 day notice to vacate, but so far none has been issued.
Initially, they were told that they would likely have to leave by the end of September, and that would mesh with the 60-day notice if said notice were to be issued imminently. But Vocca said that he has been told the developers are still working on financing and are having issues with Orlando’s infamously obtuse permitting process.
So that means Claddagh can continue to draw ales for its regulars for now. Who knows, it might be possible that it could celebrate its arrival at the legal drinking age in December and celebrate yet another St. Patrick’s Day in the same place in March.
But that actually isn’t ideal, said Vocca. It’s only delaying the inevitable. And the longer it takes for the proverbial other shoe to drop the longer it takes for him to make plans to move on.
He says he wants to relocate, but only if he can stay within the general area. That reduces the available real estate inventory greatly, especially for a business that serves alcohol. Some potential landlords don’t want a pub as a tenant, and some who might be open to the idea are too close to a school or church and fall within the archaic law that stipulates a puritanical proximity. (I’ve never understood why people feel that the sensitivities of churchgoers and the influences on children are lessened at 1001 feet from what they are at 999 feet.)
And because Claddagh is not all about Guinness, Vocca said he also needs a venue that has an existing kitchen. Finding one won’t be easy. And moving into it won’t be inexpensive or easy (see reference to city’s permitting process above).
And nothing can be done until final notice to vacate is given, he said.
The developer has told the tenants that Walgreens does not want to be seen as an evil evictor and will do whatever it can to help the tenants move on. That, said Vocca, apparently doesn’t mean financial assistance.
So in the meantime, the Guinness will continue to flow and the Cottage Pies and Irish Stews will still be served. But make not mistake, there’s an Irish wake looming in the not too distant future.
Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub is at 4308 Curry Ford Road, Orlando.