Here’s the thing about interviewing bar owners: They are more accustomed to listening than talking about themselves.
So when I stopped by Halligan’s Ale House to meet the owners of Midland’s first bar and grill, the conversation focused on how excited they are to provide a new place for people to socialize.
Donna Burnette and Allen Burnette (they used to be married, but we didn’t talk about that) are people who like having company over, and each of them has experience taking care of people.
Donna worked in the medical field for 24 years, including six as a paramedic, and Allen served as a town council member and firefighter. He also ran a business in Midland, Allen’s Automotive and Wrecker Service, a three-bay garage that has now been transformed into Halligan’s Ale House.
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There is not a trace of the former automotive shop in the bar. Quiet colors and muted lighting lend to the welcoming atmosphere. Three televisions, tuned to sports and news, provide a focus for those seated at the long bar across the front of the room or at the tables scattered throughout.
There’s a pool table, a video golf game, a juke box in the corner and a patio in the back. This is not a place for loud partying, but is for relaxed conversation with friends, games and the occasional spontaneous dance.
Donna Burnette said she’s not finished with the bar’s décor.
She plans to add more decorative touches in keeping with the firefighting – homage to Allen’s years of service and to the fire department next door – and Irish themes.
“This is not a beer joint,” she said. “It’s a pub.”
Those themes are proudly displayed at the bar’s entrance. Panels of stained glass surrounding the dark wood door depict flames, shamrocks and the tool from which Halligan’s Ale House takes its name.
A Halligan bar, Allen Burnette explained, is an important firefighting tool used to force an entry or exit, sort of a pick and an axe together.
Allen said Halligan’s is still a work in progress. Though they’ve been planning, working and renovating for more than a year and open since Oct. 10, there’s still a lot more they want to do – pave the parking lot, add a small stage in the back and expand the kitchen.
While Donna is the chief bartender, Allen is in charge of the grill. Ask him what his specialty is, and he says, “Food.”
Mostly, they just want to keep their clientele happy.
Halligan’s has a D.J. on Fridays and karaoke on Saturdays. There will be special holiday events (Donna is already planning St. Patrick’s Day) and on Veterans’ Day servicemen and women can get a free beer with military I.D.
Donna and Allen like to spend time with their guests, saying it’s nice just to be able to chit-chat with folks at the bar, and see how their day’s been.