Come March, most Irish pubs in Montreal are normally stocking up on Guinness and other Irish beers for the biggest celebration of the year. But like last year, the parade’s cancelled and the festivities are looking subdued. There’s still a bit of Irish luck – along with stew, burgers, and beer – to be found, though, as some pubs are planning to celebrate with takeout specials. Others, still closed, are running fundraisers and donating to charities, while still others are already planning year-round celebrations for when they can reopen.
Joey Griffin of Honey Martin Pub in NDG said that at least this year he was anticipating being closed, as opposed to last when the pub was fully stocked before being told to close. “We’d already made our big orders and prepped for St. Patrick’s Day. Last year was a little bit more of a raw feeling,” he told Eater.
They won’t be selling any food to go, either. They don’t have their own kitchen and the pub’s not open. They could set up a temporary kitchen at St-Henri bar Loïc, which they also own, but it’s not worth it, Griffin says. “We’d have to go out and basically stock 100 percent of the food to sell. It kind of ends up being a break even type thing.”
Instead, he and his brothers decided to run the 4 x 4 x 48 Challenge for St. Patrick’s Day, to raise money for the Nazareth Community, which provides shelter, food and support for people struggling with mental health issues, addiction, and homelessness. “Basically you run 4 miles every 4 hours for a total of 48 miles,” said Griffin. “My body has been brutally assaulted by this experience.”
The Honey Martin team managed to raise $1,155 of its $500 goal. (They’re still accepting donations here.)
As for his own St. Patrick’s Day plans, Griffin said he’ll still be celebrating, just without the community aspect and the parade. “I’m of the ilk that all people should be celebrating life. Don’t ever let anyone get you down.”
Meanwhile, Joe Cannon of the Irish Embassy & Pub says that while the pub hasn’t been open since the fire right after St. Patrick’s Day in 2018, it will be donating a bagel breakfast and Irish stew lunch to Resilience Montreal, the day shelter located at St. Catherine street and Atwater. Otherwise, Cannon says the team has been focusing on its latest venture, Birra Fanelli, a microbrewery in Sorel-Tracy. “[It’s] kind of kept us going until we can find our new [Irish Embassy] location,” he says.
Cannon says the Irish Embassy may return to its original location, which is being developed into a hotel and condos, but they’ve seen around 40 other locations. None have been the right fit yet, though. “It’s kind of sensitive, because landlords are trying to work with the tenants that they have. They’re not like Shiller Lavy,” he says. The price tag has also been too expensive for downtown locations. “One building we were looking at was the corner of De Maisonneuve and Crescent. I think it was $10,000 to $12,000 a month just in the city taxes,” he said.
Ideally, he’d like to open a couple bars once they’re allowed to reopen to patrons, not just the Sorel-Tracy Birra Fanelli location and the Irish Embassy. Those would include a not-strictly Irish craft beer bar. “It was what we had on Bishop St. when the fire happened,” he said. “We had only opened up our craft bar in the basement a month before. That’s where we found the market was going. We love the Irish beers, Guinness and Kilkenny and Smithwicks and Harp, but we also wanted to do local – local wines, distilleries and breweries – to complement the Irish feel.”
How some of the others are celebrating
Pub McCarold: The Côte-des-Neiges pub is creating a special burger for the day made with Guinness- and cider-braised baby back ribs served on a sesame bun with Guinness cheese, Swiss cheese, pickled onions and lettuce. It’ll be available for takeout and delivery via Uber, SkiptheDishes and Doordash on March 17 until it sells out.
Hurley’s: Rod Applebee, general manager of Hurley’s, will be throwing a virtual St. Patrick’s Day party and fundraiser featuring the Hurley’s house band Solstice. The event will be on Facebook Live at 5:30pm and 7:30pm on YouTube. There’ll be swag and prizes for people who donate, with funds going to the St. Mary’s Hospital Centre. There’ll also be a limited quantity of takeout “party packs” available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, with stew and beer for a suggested $20 donation.
McLean’s Pub: Stuart Ashton, general manager of McLean’s Pub, says they won’t be doing takeout for the holiday, but once bars open again they have plans to stretch St. Patrick’s Day throughout the year to make up for the closure. “We’re working with some big partners on some food and drink pairings, something different every month,” he told Eater.
Burgundy Lion Group: Each of the group’s three restaurants will have takeout and/or delivery specials:
- Bishop & Bagg’s St. Patrick’s Day package is available March 17 to March 20 and includes Irish stew, Bailey’s cheesecake, and two Murphy’s stouts. No pre-order necessary.
- Wolf & Workman will be selling lamb pies from March 17 to March 20. No need to pre-order, but quantities are limited, so best to reserve on the pub’s website.
- The Burgundy Lion’s St. Patrick’s Day $55 three-course menu will include sous vide seafood chowder with bay scallops, littleneck clams, cod and smoked salmon; sous vide stout-braised beef and bacon stew (or a veggie-only version) with mashed champ (potatoes, carrots, peas and more stout); a stout brownie (yes, a beer brownie); and two Murphy’s Stouts. Orders must be placed in advance on the website and pick-up is on March. There’s delivery, but only for people 65 and older.