Looney's and Claddagh are peas in a pod, worlds apart

ON NIGHTLIFE

Scene

December 15, 2005|By SAM SESSA

On Nightlife It's wild to see what a little atmosphere can do to a place.

Two bars with the same basic layout but different attitudes can seem worlds away.

Take Looney's Pub and Claddagh Pub in O'Donnell Square in Canton. Both have a bar and restaurant area downstairs and a game and lounge space upstairs. Both have two pool tables, a foosball table, Golden Tee 2005 and a horde of Irish memorabilia tacked up on the walls. They even sit on different corners of the same block.

But varying vibes draw distinctive crowds to each.

Just about everybody has a Looney's of their own. It's the fallback bar that you can wear your favorite T-shirt to and feel right at home. The place isn't in pristine shape - dust fringes the felt on the pool tables and there's trash on the floor - but it's laid back and comfy.

At Looney's, the beer comes in plastic cups, and the jukebox blares '80s music. You might see an adult community soccer team pour in after a game, dressed in matching short-sleeve shirts and jeans. Looney's patrons are a loud bunch of young and middle-aged people who say what they think, whether you'll like it or not. They're not brash, but they can stir the place up now and then.

Looney's also has a barrage of TV sets tuned in to games. It's the smaller of the two places and has only one bar upstairs.

Across the block, Claddagh is a bit more buttoned-down. Older bartenders pour well-mixed but slightly more expensive gin and tonics into glasses. It's darker, and you're more likely to hear new music like "Feel Good, Inc." by the Gorillaz.

Claddagh's the place to take your boy- or girlfriend if you haven't been dating long. Beat-up T-shirts don't fly on a Friday or Saturday night. It's clean, and the pool tables look newer.

You can sit on a couch upstairs and stare wistfully at the gas fireplace on the far wall, or grab a stool at one of the two upstairs bars.

Claddagh's crowd is a bit more mellow, too. Not to say they don't get feisty. When I went there last weekend, one guy was hopping mad about something and letting the whole downstairs bar have it. But on an average night, don't expect a ton of rowdiness there.

I don't think many people barhop between the two, but if you want to tour them both, start with a couple drinks at Claddagh and then amble down to Looney's for a late-night hosing.

Looney's Pub is at 2900 O'Donnell St. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Call 410-675-9235 or visit looneyspub.com.

Claddagh Pub is at 2918 O'Donnell St. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call 410-522-4220.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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