John Allison Public House

092016-unknown-eater-2Photos By: Josh Triggs

When your daily conversations include words like crusted with fresh herbs, fire-grilled sirloin and smoked Gouda cheese, you might think you’re in the restaurant business but John Flannery knows better.

Despite owning two restaurants including John Allison Public House in Greencastle, PA, John and his wife Ame have no delusions about what business they are in. “Most any restaurant can deliver decent food,” John acknowledges.

“We aren’t in the food business; we’re in the hospitality business.” The distinction between those two ideas is a daily focus for the Flannerys and they and their staff know it is the attention to the small details that take guests beyond a food menu. “I preach guest service all the time,” John notes. “We know that our guests want a great experience. We want this to be a place where people can come in and feel comfortable. Our goal is to give them a complete experience that will bring them back to us again and again.”

The John Allison Public House, 155 South Antrim Way, Greencastle, PA, is open seven days a week with ample parking. What happens inside the building daily is intentional, from the design of the environs to the menu and the special events; all combine to fulfill the Flannery’s vision of providing an exceptional customer experience.

In addition to the bar seating where NFL Sunday Ticket and other HD sportscasts ensure that fans can always see their local team favorites in play, there are five other distinct seating areas, Guests who want to slow down and relax in a quiet atmosphere gravitate to the formal dining room which can seat 60-70. For a more casual experience, the Lounge is equipped with six TVs. The Tavern, also known as The Blue Room, boasts six TVs as well and can seat up to 40 at high-top tables.

This social hub is great for guests who want to blow off a little steam with friends and decompress with some gaming like golf or bowling or celebrate the end of the workday by loading up the jukebox. On beautiful days and warm nights, the patio calls to guests who are drawn to enjoy their burger, steak or brew outdoors under the shade of a generous umbrella. To complete their offerings, the John Allison Public House is also prepared for private parties and events in their banquet room which can seat up to 70 for either buffets or plated meals. Ame Flannery handles all the banquet arrangements personally to ensure that guests have one single point of contact for all the details of that experience; from booking until the time the last guest leaves the event.

“We really want to offer something for everyone,” says John. “And that’s reflected in our menu, too.” From selections such as house rubbed rib eye and oak barrel sirloin to mushroom risotto and Cajun maple-glazed mahi-mahi, the entree list is filled with options. Appetizers include traditional favorites like wings, nachos and quesadillas but the list also tempts guests with other fare such as hummus with roasted red peppers and Asian pot stickers with house-made ponzu dipping sauce.

“Our biggest seller of course, is wings,” John notes. “But our signature appetizer, the thing we’re really known for, is our crab-stuffed pretzel.” This John Allison specialty starts with a custom-made pretzel. “These soft pretzels are made only for us by Sunnyway Foods,” John reports. “We start with their fresh baked potato dough pretzel then we add our recipe crab dip. To top it off, we add melted cheddar jack cheese.”

Menu favorites are always a draw, especially among the regulars, and creating those signature specialties takes some time and testing. “Our menu is seasonal and we have staff samplings when we decide to offer something new. When we opened our fi rst restaurant 11 years ago, it was against the advice of both my attorney and my accountant,” John quips. “When we opened our second location in Greencastle, we had a steep learning curve. We had to do some work on revising our menu to make it Greencastle-friendly,” he admits.

Since then, John and his staff have scored some major hits. Among them are their specialty burgers, including a vegan black bean veggie burger with habanera jack cheese. But at the top of their best sellers is the pub burger. Starting with a half pound of angus beef, the burger is cooked to order then topped with onion rings, sautéed mushrooms and smoked Gouda cheese. Lettuce, tomato and onion add the finishing touches before it is served with fresh, hand-cut fries.

“All of our burgers are hand-patted and served on Martin’s potato rolls,” says John. “Wednesday is burger night and our burgers are half-price after 4:00 p.m. It’s not unusual for us to sell 400 on a Wednesday night.”

For a boost before hump day, stop in Tuesday. Wings and Yuengs night begins at 4:00 p.m. and features specials with Yuengling Lager. Any day you drop by, sample or savor a variety of craft beers, another guest offer on which John Allison Public House prides itself. The bar is equipped with 18 rotating taps offering area favorites from the Troeg’s and other small breweries. For John and Ame, a restaurant is a personal business where owners need to be present and engaged. “I think that’s one of the very important distinctions between an independent owner and a chain,” says John. “I also want my staff to be happy that I’m here when I can be but I have faith in all of them even when I’m not.”

“I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by great people,” he reflects. “For starters, Ame is our accountant. We’re a team.” John also points out that they hire and retain the people who understand the concept of hospitality. “My general manager Jeff Bruckhart has been with me nine years and he can almost read my mind now,” he laughs.

“There is no one job here more important than another. I don’t want anyone to think: ‘I’m only a dishwasher.’ If there are no clean dishes, we can’t serve food,’ John adds.

As small business owners, the Flannerys also appreciate the importance of being part of the community. “You can’t expect the community to support your business if you don’t support the community,” John states simply. To that end, John and Ame not only serve as community leaders in capacities with local Chambers of Commerce and community events like Greencastle’s recent Old Home Week festivities, they design and host their own special events including the Pub Run which has raised nearly $50,000 for two local school districts in recent years.

“We also make a point to shop local and we get our services locally,” he adds. “From tech services to banking, we deal with local businesses, the local people, who are part of the same community where we work and live.” That desire to partner with their community also extends to booking local musicians for the live entertainment in the lounge and on the patio.


Visit for the entertainment schedule, other special events and menu ideas. The bar is open 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday and Sunday until 9:00 p.m. If you’re hungry, it doesn’t matter which environment you choose to enjoy your visit; the kitchen is open until 9:00 p.m. weekdays and until 8:00 p.m. Sunday. On Friday and Saturday catch some live entertainment and stretch out your dining to 10:00 p.m. John and Ame Flannery and staff invite you to stop in for a true visit. Enjoy some great food, craft beer and a taste of their Greencastle hospitality.

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