The Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub is a multifaceted establishment offering the finest in food, entertainment, and atmosphere. The menu offers traditional Irish fare as well as eclectic international dishes highlighted by chef prepared specials that include hand cut steaks, chops, and an incredible seafood variety all designed in a unique and creative manner. The secluded dining room is adorned by a beautiful stone fireplace, vaulted ceilings and softly lit ambiance. The bar boasts a wide variety of wines, beers & specialty drinks. The outdoor deck is always a sunny place for lunch & dinner and as the sun sets the fun begins at our Tiki bar. If an authentic Irish pub and cozy atmosphere is what you are looking for it doesn’t get any better in New Jersey than the Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub. There is something for all patrons to enjoy.
About Our Founder…
Eugene Gillespie didn’t have it in his mind to emigrate to the U.S. when he traveled to New York in March of 1972 to visit his brother Matty. A native of Rathball, a small village in Ballina, Co. Mayo, Eugene got a real taste for life in America on that initial visit, and never looked back. “Since times were hard in Ireland when I left, I saw the opportunity to make a better life for myself,” Eugene recalls. And a better life he did. Since his arrival Eugene has owned a variety of bars & restaurants in New York and New Jersey.
Like many Irish who go on to open their own bar and restaurants, Eugene put in 60 to 70 hour weeks working as a bartender and saving his money. In 1977 he and his brother Matty opened a neighborhood tavern called The Waterfall. “Although it turned out to be a very successful venture, my life’s savings were at stake,” remembers Eugene. But the hard work paid off, which allowed Eugene to helm two other bars – Gillespie’s in Manhattan was opened in 1980, and the place where he first started out, the 12 Pins, was purchased by Eugene in 1989. It’s clear that the latter held a special place in his heart during the four years he owned it. “On Sunday’s, after Mass at St. Philip Neri’s, all the Irish would gather and reminisce about Ireland and talk about the news from home,” Eugene says.
In 1991, Eugene and his wife Rosemary, made the move across the Hudson River and bought Rosie’s Steakhouse & Pub. The restaurant, which was named after Rosemary, was NJ’s most popular spot for Irish folk to watch all the GAA games broadcast live from Ireland. The Porter House, which Eugene opened in 1998, is where he took Irish Pub’s to the next level by furnishing its interior and exterior with materials directly from Ireland. Many of The Porter House customers were Irish and came from the large Irish community in near by Pearl River, New York. Overseeing the two successful establishments left Eugene little time for anything else, therefore he sold the two business and embarked on The Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub located in Kenilworth New Jersey in 2004.
When Eugene first arrived in the U.S. he had lots of time to play Gaelic football, but booming business interests have pretty much put paid to that hobby. Now he relaxes by playing the odd round of golf or heading down the Jersey shore where he tries to exercise, to work off the ‘excellent food’ he eats from The Blackthorn Restaurants. The Gillespie’s have three children, Karen, Eugene and Laura.