Fork in the Road: Celtic Fox honors tradition while embracing new momentum
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka’s oldest Irish pub is approaching its 20th anniversary, and the Celtic Fox is ready to keep moving forward.
“We just want to really be that friendliest neighborhood pub that we can be and just be a staple for downtown,” General manager Katie Turner said. “Downtown has made huge changes. We’ve been here through some of the really rough spots, and we’ve held through. We want to stay here and keep things going with all the new momentum downtown has.”
Changing ownership within the last couple of years, the Celtic Fox has made several changes to accommodate that growth; including an expansion where the bar’s raised section used to be and suping up two party rooms for private use. But, important connections to the Celtic Fox’s past, including the pub’s namesake family, remain. Family murals, many painted off of family photos from Ireland, antique mirrors, and original lighting from the Woolworth’s Store on Kansas Avenue all keep the history alive within its walls.
“Still has the same old feel, kept a lot of the important historical factors,” Turner explained, “but modernized it and brought it into a new light.”
Of course, an Irish Pub’s most important day of the year comes every March. The Celtic Fox is typically at the forefront of the city’s celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Absolutely,” Turner confirmed. “We are sponsoring the parade this year, since it has been privatized, so we want to make sure we keep that Topeka tradition going.”
The parade will pass the Celtic Fox, where the street will be taped off in front of the pub, stage raised, and the Fox even has a special treat in store for St. Patty’s Day. Beer is the day’s main course, but the Celtic Fox will also have the dishes they serve year-round.
“We’re an Irish Pub, so fish and chips are very, very important,” Turner pointed out. “We make our own beer batter in-house, so every piece of fish we do is hand-cut and hand-dipped. Reubens are absolutely delicious here. We’ve got a lot of good food, and we’re just trying to make sure what we do we do really well.”
“They’ve got the best cheese curds per my husband,” Stephani Collins, a first-time customer said. “They are the absolute best. I think it’s great, the food is wonderful. I’ve had my first few bites and it’s just awesome.”
Almost as good as the food, is the service.
“It’s really calm, cool and collected, very comfortable, very accepting,” Collins described. “Everybody just seems welcome, very nice vibe.”
“I think it’s the good feelings that we try to put out there,” Turner explained. “We try to make sure everyone that comes in is part of the family, we’re very family-oriented in both our staff and the customers that come in and interact with us.”
You’ll find the Celtic Fox open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., and until midnight on Friday and Saturday, at SW 8th and Jackson St.
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