ELMHURST – Fitz's Pub, a family owned Irish tavern, will host a party Jan. 26 to mark its 20th year serving people in Elmhurst.
Brendan Fitzharris opened the pub Jan. 27, 1999, along with his parents, Terrence and Margaret Fitzharris, and his cousin, Jim Friel.
Fitzharris said he decided to open the bar when he was 26 while working a job that he did not enjoy.
"I liked going to bars just like any 25-year-old," he said.
Fitzharris' family purchased the Fire Bell Pub, a bar that opened in 1954, and turned it into Fitz's Pub.
Fitzharris studied business in college and had previously been a bartender, but still learned a lot as a bar owner.
He said he has enjoyed operating the neighborhood Irish pub and spending time with patrons.
"It's your job but it also becomes a lot of a part of your life--your friends, your family, things like that," he said.
Fitzharris said his original vision was to open a neighborhood establishment with good food.
"We get people from 21 to 90 in here, so that's kind of what I was going for: to make a place that everyone feels comfortable. The 90-year-olds are in here earlier than the 21-year-olds usually, but we do a good lunch, good dinner," he said.
Fitzharris added that many former employees and customers have said they intend to come back for the celebration party, including some who met their spouses or became friends at the pub.
"It's great to see that you've been part of people's memories and good times in their life that they'll talk about when they're older and tell their kids about," he said.
Jack Freislinger, an Elmhurst resident, said he has enjoyed spending time at Fitz's Pub, where he has made at least seven friendships. He said he has been coming to the pub since it opened and also spent time at the pub's predecessor, Fire Bell Pub.
"I come because I like the people that are here, and the food is excellent," Freislinger said.
Tara Senato, who has been a bartender at the pub for a couple years, said the bar is a good place to work with good customers and ownership.
"It's a neighborhood place, and everyone takes care of each other," Senato said.
The anniversary event will include live Irish music from the Celtic Aires during the day, a disc jockey at 9 p.m., and limited free food from 4 to 6 p.m.
The family now has three venues: Fitz's Pub, Fitz's Spare Keys in Elmhurst and Fitz's Irish Bulldog in Villa Park. Fitzharris also has Fitz's Thirsty Irishman in Glendale Heights.
If you go
WHAT: Fitz's Pub 20-year anniversary
WHEN: 2 p.m. Jan. 26 to 2 a.m. Jan. 27
WHERE: Fitz's Pub, 172 N. Addison Ave., Elmhurst