In a way, his latest project is a coming full-circle moment, says local restaurateur Matty O'Reilly, known best for his beer-centric Republic bars.
Just before opening the 318, a beloved cafe and music venue in Excelsior, he was offered the general manager position of the Local, and while working on the concept, owner Kieran Folliard was even bandying around the name "O'Reilly's." At the time, he says, the salary would have been all the money in the world to him. His entrepreneurial spirit made him pass.
"All of a sudden, I was serving lattes to 85-year-old women early in the morning instead of working nights at this cool Irish pub. I was kicking myself!"
But that was over a decade ago, and now he's got not just one but three successful businesses to his name: the 318, which he owns with his cousin Tom Peterson, and two Republics, which he owns with partner Rick Guntzel, one on Seven Corners and the other in Uptown's Calhoun Square.
The idea for an "all-in" Irish fare menu (things like Dublin Coddle -- a hot pot of sausage, bacon, onion, potato; and Colcannon, a potato and vegetable casserole) have been in O'Reilly's back pocket ever since. When Dan Kelly's Bar and Grill on 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis came up for sale, O'Reilly said he fell in love with the wood, stained glass, and booths so evocative of an Irish pub.
Aside from some cosmetic changes (including removing some of the beer signage that doesn't jibe with his commitment to local-as-possible craft brew), the new menu by chef Kevin Kvalsten, and of course an infusion of lots and lots of good beer, it will be almost a turn-key operation, reopening around the middle of January.
O'Reilly also has a serious yen for craft cider, and hopes to bring in some Irish labels, something our city is sorely lacking, he says. He's talking with distributors in New York, a city where it's possible to get over 70 labels of Irish cider, while in our town we can only get one. They're working on getting some signature house ciders, as well as working on cocktails using the cider as a base.
"I've got Irish cider companies UPS-ing me samples," says O'Reilly. "This is a really cool time to be educated about cider."
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