Street Talk

Street Talk: When a sale is not just a sale, the bands play on

Between the Irish and the Addys.

November 21, 2014
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The Grand Rapids Business Journal last March broke the news that Fenian’s Irish Pub in Conklin was for sale. Now we can report a sale to an unnamed individual from West Michigan is pending and expected to be final in February.

Fenian’s is no typical American bar billing itself as an Irish pub.

Like the rest, it has Guinness and Irish hard cider on tap, but it’s much more than that. It is actually an Irish music pub and a regular stop for some of the biggest names in music from Ireland when they tour the U.S.

Fenian’s also features a “session” every Wednesday night: People from throughout the region who are avid players and singers of Irish music show up and perform, in concert or solo, on the tiny stage.

Such impromptu, amateur music sessions have long been a regular thing at local pubs in Ireland.

MaryAnn and Terry Reagan are Irish-Americans — she from New York, he from Michigan. They bought the place in 1987, a quiet neighborhood tavern across the street from the old grain elevator in the tiny village of Conklin in northeast Ottawa County.

It wasn’t an Irish music pub when they started; according to MaryAnn, the live music just sort of started happening in the first couple of years and then snowballed.

The people who know and love Fenian’s aren’t confined to Michigan, so it is no wonder that the hack-job pulled on MaryAnn’s email account in mid-November generated such a big response.

For years MaryAnn has used her email to notify people all over the U.S. and Europe about the next Irish act they’ve booked, so it was with great concern that a very peculiar email was received by a reporter at the Business Journal, in which MaryAnn seemingly was saying something about being in great trouble and needing a response from her loyal friends.

Recipients who didn’t realize her email account had been hacked replied and got another email that tried to look like her email address but clearly was not. And oh, please do send your credit card information so I can borrow $500 to get out of this bind I’m in while I’m traveling over here in the Ukraine. (Everybody who knows Fenian’s knows that, other than Ireland, MaryAnn LOVES Paris, so if she isn’t here or in Ireland escorting one of her tour groups, she’s probably in Paris — not Ukraine.)

People who smelled a hacker just picked up the phone and called her, as did the GRBJ reporter.

“I was hacked. I’m not in the Ukraine,” she said.

It was a very busy Friday afternoon behind the bar and she had no time to talk, which necessitated an official visit by the journalist on Saturday afternoon. (The lengths we go to get the story!)

There we learned MaryAnn had gotten a flood of phone calls from concerned friends and acquaintances, from Michigan and from both U.S. coasts.

One of the calls came from Sister Margaret at the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Lowell. MaryAnn quickly assured her she was not stranded overseas.

“Well,” replied Sister Margaret, “we said a Mass for you this morning, anyway.”

The Reagans also want to assure everyone they are still open for business as usual, because they have heard that other drinking establishments are telling people Fenian’s has already closed its doors. (They’ve got a big concert scheduled for Dec. 6 by Chicago Reel, and a big New Year’s Eve party.)

That kind of chicanery really gets MaryAnn’s Irish up. If you don’t know what that means, just go in the pub and tell her you heard it was closed.

Sadly, it does look like the end of Fenian’s will come in February, assuming the deal goes through.

The Reagans want to retire and spend more time every summer out on Lake Michigan on their sailboat, and the pub takes a lot of time and effort.

“It’s been quite a ride,” said MaryAnn. “But it’s a little sad, too.”

Designed to win

Lacks Enterprises, a full-service, global supplier of automotive wheel, trim, plastic plate and home products, is a co-sponsor of the 11th annual Design Challenge at the L.A. Auto Show — public days are Nov. 21-30 — one of the most prestigious auto design competitions in the world.

“We are happy to support this competition as it fosters individuality and creativity,” said Mike Dorney, director of global business development, Lacks Enterprises.

“The automotive industry thrives on building personality and style into every vehicle, and the Design Challenge honors the best in the industry. Lacks Enterprises continues its focus on developing lightweight composite wheel systems and solutions that improve fuel economy and create the foundation for great design. With Lacks, you can have a lightweight, large-diameter wheel without having to downsize. In addition, Lacks interior and exterior trim product lines promote high value mass optimization and customization.”

In addition to co-sponsoring the design award, Lacks is exhibiting in the Concourse Foyer at the show.

A 2014 GMC Sierra concept vehicle is on display featuring the company’s eVOLVE hybrid composite wheel system, with matching grille and fascia treated with Lacks’ patented Spinelle metal finish technology.

The vehicle and other product examples are displayed with finishes unique to Lacks Enterprises that “enable” the design community with trim level differentiation, color harmony and enhance overall vehicle content.

Participants from BMW, Honda, McLaren, Nissan, Peterbilt, Qoros and SAIC will be judged in the Design Challenge on criteria ranging from ecological sensitivity to creativity of concept and brand reflection.

The judges are Tom Matano, executive director of the School of Industrial Design, Academy of Art University; Stewart Reed, chair of transportation design, Art Center College of Design; and Alexander Klatt, chair of MFA transportation design and associate professor, College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Outdoor outdone

The American Advertising Federation of West Michigan last week bowed to the blizzard, canceling its November “member mojo” gathering to learn about outdoor advertising.

“The digital outdoor event (is) canceled because of physical outdoor conditions.”

AAF program chair Jeff Terpstra just let it roll onto the December marquee event:

“It’s unfortunate, but based on the massive accumulation of snow, our board has chosen to cancel our November program. We regret the inconvenience. We’re passionate about building and supporting our creative community, and it’s clear that you are, too. Please plan on joining us for our December program: Ads, Ale, and ADDYs. This free event will feature a Q&A on the 2015 ADDY awards. We hope you can join us.”

Let’s see; winter officially blasts in on Dec. 21 …

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