Entering Quinn's on a midweek afternoon, we were met by a pair of glowering eyes. We looked around about three regulars privately nursing their own pints. We apprehensively wandered up to the bar and ordered our own — from the owner of those glowering eyes. It became clear these were attached to a mouth. A mouth that spoke in a friendly tone and asked us about our day. We got a conversation going and (eventually) decided that in fact, here was one of London's most welcoming pub landlords, Pat Quinn.
So many similar memories have emerged of one of the city's longest running pub landlords. He ran the eponymous bozer on Kentish Town Road, up until his death at 94 years old.
Quinn was born in County Longford Ireland in 1922, to a farming family. He came to London during the war, working in the East End among the Irish-born dock workers. He met his wife Margaret in London, who could also regularly be spotted behind the bar. They remained married for over 60 years.
He ran pubs all over London — Hammersmith, White City, Turnpike Lane and Southfields — before taking over The Duck Inn on the border between Camden and Kentish Town in the late 1980s. The name was because of its low ceiling, but in 1992 the pub was refurbished and rebranded as Quinn's.
In an age of gastropubs and chains, Quinn's is an authentic Irish pub not in its branding, but because of its feel. So much of this was created by Quinn himself. As long as you didn't get up to any funny business, his was a warm welcome. Quinn's can get lively, and the man behind the bar had no issue turfing anyone out if things got out of hand. This was his pub, and you always knew who was in charge.
The upmarket pubs that are so in vogue right now, owe part of their success to Quinn's. It was a trailblazer in bringing in foreign beers — especially from Germany and Belgium — long before many others.
Despite the pretty penny it could fetch if it were to go on the market, Quinn's is still run by his family today.
We hope that ridiculously garish yellow facade burns bright and long.