Stillwater residents can now enjoy the atmosphere of a European pub.
Chris Warde, 30 and a sophomore majoring in history at Oklahoma State University, opened Finnegan’s Fighting Goat pub at Seventh and Main on Saturday.
“If you want a place that is quiet and you want to try a new beer, this is the bar for you,” Warde said.
Finnegan’s Fighting Goat is the first European-style pub in Stillwater.
Warde got the idea of opening a European pub after he spent time traveling.
“I traveled to England and New Zealand, a lot of places associated with the British colonies,” Warde said. “I really liked the atmosphere of a pub and the pub games.”
Warde said he wanted to open a bar that was friendly, quiet and nonsmoking.
“The bars on ‘The Strip’ are good bars, but seem all the same to me,” Warde said. “They are loud and you always go home smelling like smoke.
“I used to smoke, and I have become sensitive to smoke since I quit. Finnegan’s is an alternative to ‘The Strip.’”
Houston Gandy, a sophomore majoring in secondary education, shares the feelings with Warde.
“I’m glad there is an alternative to the cowboy-oriented bars,” Gandy said. “I’m not a cowboy and I hate country music. Finnegan’s Fighting Goat is a place where I can escape from rednecks and hillbillies.”
Warde said most bars in Stillwater don’t have a wide selection of beers on tap and he wanted to change that. He said he wants Finnegan’s to be similar to TapWerks in Oklahoma City or James E. McNellie’s Public House in Tulsa.
Josh Perry, Warde’s friend and former owner of Rivals Sports Bar, is the manager of Finnegan’s Fighting Goat. Warde said he and Perry became friends about a year ago when he used to go to Perry’s bar.
Perry sold Rivals Sports Bar after the roof collapsed.
“I don’t know anything about starting a bar,” Warde said. “Perry has already been through it, so I let him run the place.”
Perry said he wants Finnegan’s Fighting Goat to help people discover beers they have never heard of.
If there is a beer or liquor a customer wants to try, Finnegan’s will order it. Perry said if the alcohol isn’t good and doesn’t sell, he won’t order it again.
“We will carry microbreweries that no one else carriers,” Perry said. “My goal is to make Finnegan’s the flagship of good American beers. We will have 86 different beers, 36 on tap and 50 in bottles.”
Perry said he is trying to carry beers that no other bars in Oklahoma carry. He said he has one beer company, Strongbow, on board.
Jamelle Lynch, a senior majoring in nutritional science, said he is excited for something different in Stillwater.
“Having a European pub in Stillwater is something this town could definitely use,” Lynch said. “I’m glad to see something new and culturally diverse here.”
Warde said he also wanted to open Finnegan’s for his initial investor, his father. Warde’s father, William Warde, was a statistics professor at OSU until he died in August.
“I wanted my dad to have a place to come to after work,” Warde said
“We were hoping to be open this past September but we have had lots of delays.”
Finnegan’s Fighting Goat opened Friday, November 26. Warde said he wasn’t going to open the bar but he mentioned to his friends he might open it and they showed up looking for a drink.
“We discovered our nitrous tank was leaking,” Perry said. “Because of that we could only serve liquor and bottled beer.”
Warde said he estimated 50 people were in the bar that night and not one person complained about not being able to have draft beer.
Perry said people have shown interest in the pub in the past two months.
“I’ll be working on something and people will just walk in the door and ask what I’m doing,” Perry said. “There is a sign out front that says, ‘Finnegan’s Irish Pub Opening Soon’ and I’m standing in a bar, what do you think I’m doing?
“So I have fun with them. I told one lady I was installing baby incubators, she literally s***. I told another guy that this was becoming a new Taco Bell and that they wanted to move downtown.”
All joking aside, Warde and Perry have big plans for Finnegan’s, but they made it clear that it would be well into the future before they make any additions to the pub.
The upstairs area is one of the additions Warde and Perry plan to use as a private party room or a smoking section. Warde said a sprinkler system has to be added before customers can go upstairs.
Now, the upstairs is an office, but previously the room housed all the money for the city of Stillwater. The money was kept in a large walk in safe. The safe is there and functioning.
A kitchen area is another addition that Warde said is crucial. Finnegan’s Fighting Goat has some food machines, such as a popcorn machine and a pizza warmer, but because it doesn’t have a kitchen, it can’t prepare food.
Warde said he isn’t sure whether he will add a sprinkler system or a kitchen first.
“It all depends on what makes me more money,” Warde said.
Warde said if Finnegan’s Fighting Goat made enough money off food he would consider changing the pub to 18 and older.
Warde said Finnegan’s Fighting Goat has a patio area in front of the store similar to Louie’s Grill and Bar.
The use of the roof as a terrace is perhaps the most exciting possible addition to Finnegan’s Fighting Goat. Warde said it would require a structural engineer to make the roof secure, but he would love to use the roof because no other bar in Stillwater has a terrace on the roof.
Perry said he hopes to help the city start a shuttle service between Main Street and ‘The Strip.’ He said he has talked to the city officials about the idea and they liked the idea but don’t want to spend the money.
Jeremy Pearce, 25 and a Stillwater resident, said Finnegan’s Fighting Goat became his favorite bar after his first visit.
“[Finnegan’s Fighting Goat] has the best selection of beers,” Pearce said. “They have 36 beers on tap, more than you would get anywhere else.”
Pearce said the best thing about Finnegan’s Fighting Goat is the customer service.
“They take their time and make sure the beer is perfect,” Pearce said. “The bartender just poured a stout beer which takes a long time, he walked away and let the beer settle before he topped it off. You just don’t see other bars doing that.
“Earlier they asked if I wanted my shot glass chilled, any other bar would tell you you get the shot hot and you will like it. That is an awesome sign of customer service.”
Pearce said he is impressed with the setup of the bar and can’t wait to see what Warde and Perry add to the bar.
“I would like to see them add some live music,” Pearce said. “Food is always good, but it should be quick bar food, buffalo wings for example.
“I think it is a great idea to add the upstairs as a smoking area, but I think they should make it a cigar bar. I don’t smoke very often but it would be nice to enjoy a beer and a cigar at the same time.”
Warde and Perry debated over what to name the bar.
“[Perry] wanted to name the bar Finnegan’s, but I thought that sounded too common,” Warde said. “I thought about calling it the Feisty Goat after a bar in the movie Euro Trip.
“There are several Feisty Goats in Europe, they are very popular. Finally, I suggested Finnegan’s Fighting Goat because I have goats and they fight.
“[Perry] was like no way. You can’t call your bar Finnegan’s Fighting Goat, but one day he threw his hands in the air and said, ‘Fine, call it what you want.’”
Warde said he started owning goats because he didn’t want to mow his yard.
“I live on 6 acres,” Warde said. “And I didn’t want to have to mess with mowing my yard. I got woods and lots of poison ivy.
“One day my buddy was joking and told me I should get some goats to mow my grass. His mother raised goats so I told him to give some.
“I used to own seven goats, but they got sick and died. Now I’m down to two.”
Finnegan’s Fighting Goat will offer weekly specials, but Warde and Perry are unsure if they will offer discounts to OSU students.
Finnegan’s Fighting Goat is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday.
“We are excited to be Stillwater’s first pub,” Warde said. “If you are looking for an alternative to ‘the strip,’ come to Finnegan’s. We offer the best beer selection of beer and the friendliest service in town. Come get a taste of pub atmosphere in a pint glass.”