SPANISH FORK, Utah (ABC4) – For many Utah homeowners, having a cool basement is a big deal.
Typically, basements in Utah homes are fitted as a game or rec room of sorts for teenagers and kids to hang out and play. Sometimes you might find the occasional man cave underneath the main level.
Brian Govatos of Spanish Fork, however, had a different approach to designing the basement of his home. He put a bit of Ireland, which is just around 4,500 miles away, across most of a continent and an entire ocean, in his home by building an authentic Irish pub in the basement.
The father of three posted a video tour of his creation to Reddit this week, where it quickly blew up and went viral on several forums. Many commenters, including those who live in Ireland and actually frequent a genuine Irish pub, praised Govatos for his attention to detail.
“Rural Irish here,” one Redditor commented. “After enough whiskey, I might be fooled into thinking this was my local, until I noticed the bathroom has running water.”
Responses like those have blown Govatos away, he tells ABC4.com.
“You don’t expect a lot of praise, especially on the Internet, but Irish people are not eager to dole out a bunch of compliments,” he laughs. “So I’ve been like, bowled over, by how positive it’s been.”
Through his family’s genealogy, Govatos has found that he does have a bit of Irish blood in him. However, Irish tradition was never a part of his life until he visited the country for the first time about 10 years ago. Since that first trip, he’s been pinched with the Irish spirit and has made several more visits back across the Atlantic Ocean since.
One of the biggest reasons why he fell in love with Ireland, was the pub scene.
“It’s everything, there’s an almost spiritual component to it,” Govatos says of his experience in Irish pubs. “The bar culture in America is so fundamentally different from what the pub culture is in Ireland. It’s so sad because I think a lot of Americans would love to experience what that culture is like.”
Pubs in Ireland, Govatos says, are much more social and lively than bars in America. Whereas American bars are filled with televisions blaring football and basketball games, with most people keeping to themselves or the group they came with, Irish pubs thrive on conversation.
“The bartender might say, ‘Hey, you should talk to this person who’s sitting right here, you guys have something in common or you guys think oppositely about this thing, you should argue about it right now,’” Govatos explains. “And I think that just the core national identity being wrapped up in something like having conversations in a public place was just eye-opening to me.”
Govatos’ pub – which doesn’t have a name yet; he jokes that he might try to sell the rights to someone – is built in the same spirit of conversation and good times. There are plenty of places to sit and relax and be close to someone – of course, as long as they are vaccinated and not positive for COVID, he adds – and have a chat about anything. His basement also has a stage for those inclined to belt out a song or two, inviting the rest of the room to join along, as they would in Ireland.
There’s also a retractable TV, for those who can’t break themselves completely of American bar habits.
While he jokes in his video tour and in his interview with ABC4.com that turning the basement into a bar was a bit of a midlife crisis, he also says, surprisingly that getting his wife on board with the project wasn’t a challenge at all. It helped that she also had seen the magic of an Irish pub in person.
“She completely and totally endorsed and was excited about the project, but that’s because she and I’ve been to Ireland together twice,” Govatos says, adding that other family members had also enjoyed being in Ireland together. “It became a sort of like a passion of the family and when I had the idea of doing this in the basement and was sort of walking through, like, I think it could work, I think it would fit and I think we can kind of replicate these looks, it was like a no brainer.”
Many of the commenters on Reddit have identified themselves as fellow Utahns and pub fans who would love to take a shot of whiskey or down a pint of beer in the basement of Govatos’ home. In reply, Govatos has been quite welcoming to the idea of hosting a not-yet-friend in his home and sharing a drink.
After all, that’s what a pub is all about.
“If they have a digital virtual presence that lets you understand a little bit about who they are, I have no problem using my home as a meeting space for let’s say, 10 people on Reddit who are passionate about pubs who want to come to check it out,” he says. “I think that’s exactly in the spirit of a pub.”