Living near Columbus Park, the Hoboken bars I frequent are typically as busy on an average weeknight as they are on a Friday. That’s because these bars offer much more than alcohol. They feature enticing specials and terrific events during the work week—but more importantly, they treat their customer base as a community. The regular denizens of bars like these are a bit saltier than those on the main drag. They tend to want to talk about “the good old days” as far as music and manners, and that’s part of what lends to the overall charm of a place like Finnegan’s.
Personally, this bar at the corner of 8th & Willow Sts. is one of my favorites in town. The bartenders are fun, memorable, trivia-savvy, and most of all attentive. The food—I tried the Shepherd’s Pie on my last visit—is great by pub standards. The music suits the atmosphere and plays at a proper volume. TVs show not only the games and news headlines you’d expect, but Jeopardy! was also playing the last time I stopped by. Then there are the live bands, the skee ball, the darts…
Bartender Ed Snyder, who has worked at Finnegan’s for over a year and a half, answered questions for hMAG about both his establishment and his profession. Ladies and gentlemen—this is a proper bartender; and his stance on Florida Georgia Line is to be commended.
hMAG: How did you wind up becoming a bartender?
Ed Snyder of Finnegan’s: I started out bartending once I turned 18 to pay my way through college in Manhattan. As I studied more and more, it became more apparent that I had already found what I love doing in slinging drinks to old friends while meeting new ones.
H: You’ve worked at Finnegan’s for about a year and a half. How did you come into the fold there?
E: I’ve lived up in the [Jersey City] Heights for about five years. There was never a good halfway bar for me to have a nightcap on my walk through Hoboken to home. When the sign changed and the inside got brighter than the old Rogo’s, I had a good feeling when I stepped in on opening day. As I got to know the owner more through speaking about working in the city and music, we clicked and he offered me the chance to work at Finn’s.
H: In your opinion, what is the best thing about Finnegan’s?
E: It can be anything you want it to be. Tinder dates meet in a dark corner and hashtag it out, parents bring their kids in for skeeball and pizza upstairs, old school Hoboken natives hum Sinatra by the door, while aggressive businessmen shoot pool attempting to impress the doe-eyed roommates playing darts in the back. One night its Pearl Jam, another it’s P-Funk. No one’s on edge, its a place where you know you can kick back. Or Jeopardy—shouting during Jeopardy is pretty great.
H: What is the most challenging part of bartending for you?
E: Flair. Whenever I spin a bottle something spills, so I just called it quits with that nonsense.
H: Bartenders are known to have great memories, as far as remembering customers’ names, faces, favorite drinks and open tabs. Do you have any tricks when it comes to staying alert and having a strong memory?
E: When I meet someone, I find something I like about them. It may take five seconds or five minutes, but once you find something you like about someone, it’s easier to speak to them, look them in the eye, and remember them.
H: Is there a “type” when it comes to Finnegan’s regulars?
E: Devastatingly-gorgeous and spiritually-fulfilled.
H: What is your favorite item on the menu?
E: The pulled pork sandwich—sweet BBQ flavors, some cheddar smoothness, and of course, a side salad.
H: And your drink of choice?
E: A Black Velvet with unfiltered cider and Guinness.
H: When not at Finnegan’s, what is your favorite spot in town? Do you have a favorite Hoboken bartender?
E: I’m a creature of extremes. My fancy extreme lends me to go to The Brass Rail and have a Manhattan with Joey and Dani on a Sunday. My salt-of-the-earth extreme brings me to the Knights Of Columbus on 2nd & Adams, with $2 cans and the ever-charismatic John “The Baker” behind the bar.
H: For a patron to stay on your good side, which songs or albums should they avoid selecting on the Finnegan’s jukebox?
E: Any band that had two southern states or counties in its name.
H: Are there any events coming up at the bar that are “must attend” for our readers? Or specials of note?
E: Every Tuesday is “Discography Tuesday.” One artist’s work from 9pm until closing. We play the b-sides, the covers, rarities and the hits all in one night, plus 50 cent wings. The skeeball league is starting up again soon for couples on Mondays. Every Friday and Saturday we have the greatest, hardworking, talented bands come up to our stage and win the hearts of our patrons.
H: Finally, Ed, any last words for the kids?
E: Throw that ball in my yard one more time and it’s mine.