Last call at Gillary’s Tavern in Bristol


As Gillary’s Tavern closed on Saturday, April 6, so did an era of rock and roll bands, DJ dance parties and the occasional closing time scuffle between patrons who may have had more than they can handle. When the establishment re-opens within the next few weeks, owner, Michael Ferreira, plans to have a tavern with even more appeal by offering a more subdued ambiance, as well as a wide variety of microbrews and gourmet quality bar food.

“A rule of thumb is that you have to freshen up and change the theme in the nightclub business,” Mr. Ferreira said. “Gillary’s has always been a nightclub. It hasn’t been touched since 2004. It’s long overdue.”

Even before the last band wrapped up its last set at the Thames Street hotspot , Mr. Ferreira put the wheels in motion by hiring kitchen staff who helped rework a new menu. The crew also pitched in to help give the place a fresh coat of paint to go along with its new décor.

The dark wooden tables and chairs will be replaced with stainless steel furniture befitting of a brighter sports bar atmosphere. The back of the bar will be replaced with a lighted case to show off the variety of specialty beers inside that compliment the 84 inches of bar space with 32 taps from which high quality craft beers will pour. Along the walls, 13 large screen televisions will a variety of games.

“The biggest change is the taps and the food,” Mr. Ferreira said.

Taking care of the front end as general manager will be Stephen Conti, who worked as a captain at Capriccio’s restaurant in Providence for 17 years. Dan Hernandez, a veteran chef who also worked at Capriccio’s, as well as stints at Disney World and high-end restaurants in South Beach, Miami and Los Angeles will work the kitchen, bringing healthy food at moderate prices to Mr. Ferreira’s new and loyal customers.

On the menu which Mr. Conti describes as “simple, with a little flare,” will be such items as sliders, short ribs, wings and crab rangoons.  Fry cook, Sandy Cabral, has also joined the staff where she will serve up local favorites such as fish and chips and clam cakes.

“Despite what people think, the attendance for live entertainment is dropping,” Mr. Ferreira said of his motivation to change themes. “We’ll still have live bands and acoustic acts once a month and have DJs or VJs.”

But, he said, it’s going to be more suitable for a lunch and dinner crowd than before.

After owning Gillary’s for the past 13 years, there’s one more item of business that Mr. Ferreira is struggling with.

“Every time I have a name that I like, something about it doesn’t work,” he said.

Mr. Ferreira rattled a half dozen would-be names, but as of yet, none has stuck.

“Whatever it is, it’ll have ‘sports tap bar and grille’ after it,” he said.


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It is sad to see a great thing go, as there have been many great acts rite hear in bristol, tribute bands, great acts like the Rolling Stones tribute Blushing Brides, Bristol owns Bob Conti and Dirty Deeds. Led Zepplin Kashmire. Many nights of great music. I wish Mike the best with the change, hope it works out for him.

Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Report this

I liked it when it was Rocky's Tavern. Also next door Was the Hurricane Cafe and Nutsie Balzano's was across the street. That's when Bristol was Bristol!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 | Report this

I loved gillarys was my favorite nightclub

Had good djs and awesome bands there. I doubt anything new that opens there will be as good. I hope for the best batteries not included was my favorite band they always knew how to bring in a crowd.

Monday, January 20, 2014 | Report this

"rite hear"???

"Bristol owns Bob Conti"???

Sunday, September 7, 2014 | Report this

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