3 Questions with Neville Gardner of McCarthy's Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar

Neville Gardner, owner of McCarthy's Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar, has generously invited the Co-Op for THREE membership events in February (2/10, 17 & 24) from 5:30-7:30pm. Before you stop in for some authentic British Isles fare and soul-warming drink, check out his thoughts on Bethlehem, business, and the Co-Op!

Red Stag Pub Logo1. Your store, Donegal Square, is a Bethlehem Main Street institution, celebrating its 30th anniversary last year. What made you decide to start a Celtic and British shop in the Christmas City?

Before I opened the shop people were always asking me to bring items like sweaters and tweeds back from Ireland when I went home to visit. I opened Donegal Square in 1985 to allow me to go back home to Ireland regularly when my father became ill. I was working as an engineer in Allentown at the time and continued to do that for about two years after the business opened until I knew it was going to be successful.

2. You rebranded Granny McCarthy’s Tea Room as McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar recently and added a bar as well as a new patio. Why did you feel it was time for a change? What can customers expect at the new restaurant?

Granny McCarthy's was opened as a way to celebrate my own heritage and the foods my mother and grandmother made when I was growing up; things I missed and yearned for, and of course felt the public would appreciate.

After 15 years in business people loved the atmosphere and cuisine but it suffered as a result of the economic downturn in 2007 and the business became no longer sustainable, especially with the restaurant competition in Bethlehem. The idea of an Irish/British Isles pub is something I have thought about for many years. The decision to rebrand the restaurant as a pub using the McCarthy name and coat of arms, which features a red stag, seemed appropriate to go along with the changes.

We have continued the things people have always loved such as the breads, scones and made-from-scratch wholesome soups and traditional dishes like pies (shepherd’s pie with lamb or cottage pie with beef), and all our breakfast items which are hugely popular. Now that we are open seven nights a week we have added things like a wild boar burger, broiled salmon, Jameson Whiskey BBQ wings, and many other great pub favorites to the menu.

We have live music several nights a week and our traditional brunch music is very popular on Sunday mornings from 11 am - 1 pm. We also have trivia on Sunday nights and we open at 9 am on Saturdays and Sundays for breakfast.

3. You’re supporting the co-op by hosting not just one but three member events this month. Why do you feel it’s important for local business owners like yourself to support our volunteer-led organization and its mission?

The idea of supporting local nonprofits seems like a great way to cultivate business while paying goodwill forward. Having been involved with the conception and founding of the Celtic Classic festival and the Celtic Cultural Alliance I know how hard it is to get a great idea off the ground. Getting grassroots support from businesses is a real indication to the public that they should support the idea.

It's also a good way to get new people into the Pub and my retail business, Donegal Square. The fact that Bethlehem is the cultural center of the Lehigh Valley requires local businesses to provide even more support to nonprofits to help the new ideas and events succeed, and to keep Bethlehem ahead of Allentown and Easton. 

[editor's note: Did you know? The Bethlehem Food Co-Op is incorporated in PA as a non-profit cooperative corporation, which is different than a 501(c)3]

 

 

 

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