Kieran Folliard expands his Irish empire

Restaurateur introduces new whiskey and specialty meats

Introducing Folliard's captive audience of whiskey drinkers to 2 Gingers is only phase one of his aforementioned vision. Folliard hopes to eventually have his bottles lining the shelves of liquor stores far and wide. To kick off the 2 Gingers campaign, Folliard is taking his staff to Princeton, Minnesota, to watch the first bottles roll off the line (the Irish whiskey is being bottled by Minnesota's own Phillips Distilling Company) and brief employees on how to push the highly anticipated whiskey on the regular Cara crowds who've become comfortable with Jameson. "It's the Trojan horse approach to whiskey!" laughs Folliard. "We're going to broaden its appeal even more. We've focused on it, worked at it, and I've drank a lot of it myself."

While Folliard and Killen focus on the whiskey launch, former Craftsman head chef Mike Phillips can be found in the back of the Local's kitchen showing his assistant how to meticulously butcher a pig. ("You counting your fingers?" Folliard teases the assistant, who appeared to be doing a digit check when we enter the kitchen.) While the Local's kitchen staff works around them, Phillips slowly slices apart impossibly small sections of the pig, separating them into two bins: one for salami, one for sausage.

"It's tough for them, and it's tough for us," says Phillips of the noisy shared space, which is meant to be a temporary one. Last summer Phillips and Folliard created Green Ox after being introduced by mutual friend (and former Local chef) Steven Brown, who knew of Folliard's long-running interest in having a specialty meats shop. Partnering with the prolific pub owner was a step that even Phillips thought was strange at first. "I was surprised, for sure, but it makes sense after you start to think about it. I've been dry-curing meat for 10 years, always looking for someone to partner up with to make it more of a reality than just doing it in a restaurant. And Kieran's from Ireland, and they have a lot of great meats in Ireland." Folliard even dusted off the original business plan he drafted in his pre-pub days to share with Phillips.

Folliard is living every Irishman's dream: Own your own pub, make your own whiskey
Tony Nelson
Folliard is living every Irishman's dream: Own your own pub, make your own whiskey

Location Info

Map

Kieran's Irish Pub

85 6th St. N
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

Since leaving the Craftsman last August, Phillips has been working on getting Green Ox's repertoire of pork products going, and using the four Cara Irish Pubs to launch them to the public. The dinner menus offer a sweet and meaty Green Ox sausage, a dish that easily fits into the Irish pub wheelhouse, which is exactly what makes Green Ox's other offering—the lush charcuterie plate—stand out: You don't expect a buttery chorizo and perfectly spiced terrine along with your Guinness, though Phillips is doing his best to change that.

"Part of the job is educating the public on what this stuff is and what you can do with it," explains Phillips, who acknowledges the Cara crowds aren't as foodie-minded as his former Craftsman patrons. "It's taken a bit for the charcuterie plate to catch on, and that's the education part: getting the staff involved so they can sell it, making sure people aren't intimidated by it." That effort has paid off as demand for Green Ox charcuterie has inched up since its addition to the menu. "We went from selling around 20 plates a week to now we're doing more than 70."

Another part of the job is looking ahead to when Green Ox becomes a freestanding retail entity. Phillips hopes to be offering customers fresh sausage, dry-cured meats like salami and prosciutto, and even sides like house-made sauerkraut and pickles at his own space within a year. "We started here in August with the intention of getting things done for the pubs, getting our meats on the menu, and we did that pretty successfully, so now it's time to concentrate on the retail picture and see where we can go."

For his part, Folliard lets Phillips "put the passion in" and sees his role, for now, as a supporting one. That leaves plenty of time to start thinking about future ventures. Folliard may forget a name or how many business cards he's handed out, but he's never short on the next idea or plan for improvement, the mere mention of which can make Killen sound just as tired as Teeling. "Kieran always has 20 different ideas moving. I'm just happy running the pubs and pushing the whiskey and looking after customers for a while, but you never know...Kieran could throw a curveball."

With Green Ox evolving and 2 Gingers being bottled for next week's launch, Folliard is already musing on the next step for Cara Irish Pubs. "Did you know ginger ale was invented in Northern Ireland?" he offers. It's the other main ingredient of the popular Big Ginger, and Folliard says he's already thought about creating his own version of the carbonated drink—which makes it easy to wonder when the lemon and lime groves will follow.

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