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WAXHAW, NC – Welcome back to the CLT Life column, your source for great places to visit, and exciting things to do in the Tri-W and surrounding areas. Featuring everything from retail and restaurants, to local parks and neighborhoods, the CLT Life mission is to give you a look at the best spots in town.
This week’s column features Mary O’Neill’s, an Irish pub in the heart of downtown Waxhaw. With a menu, beer selection, and atmosphere that rivals the pubs of Ireland themselves, Mary O’Neill’s is the place to be for a wonderful night out, or an afternoon with friends and family. Read on for host Jimmy Grappone’s interview with pub co-owner Lee McShane.
The CLT Life: So this is Mary O’Neill’s Irish pub. Tell us a little bit about the business, and how you came up with the concept. Obviously you’re Irish, but how did you come up with the concept of an Irish pub, and why Waxhaw?
Lee McShane: Myself, and business partners Denis McDonagh, and Ciaran Farrelly had been looking to do something for a little while, and we were looking to do something sort of further out from the city that kind of felt a little more homely. Denis used to bring his daughter, she was an early toddler, to the Waxhaw Creamery ice cream store across the street. He told us to come down and check out Waxhaw, a lovely place, and we came down and checked it out. This building happened to be available for lease. It took us about six months from getting the key, to getting the doors open. So it’s a labor of love but so far so good, all worth it.
The CLT Life: There have been some awesome events here in Waxhaw. One that we’ve participated in together, which is the Pups’nPints event. I’m excited to share that it’s coming back this September. You also throw the biggest St. Patty’s day party in all of Waxhaw. Possibly in all of Union County.
Lee: That is probably about four months’ work from when we first started talking to bands, it’s trying to sign contracts, getting marquees, tents, beer vendors, food vendors. A lot of work went in behind the scenes, but when everything flicks together at about one o’clock in the afternoon and people start pouring in, it’s unbelievable. It’s good fun, then at night time, when it gets dark, and the whole tent glows up green it’s a lot of fun. The people of Waxhaw seem to really enjoy it.
The CLT Life: Tell us a little bit about what sets Mary O’Neill’s apart from, not only the other restaurants here in Waxhaw, but from other Irish pubs.
Lee: We’ve got a good menu. We sat down and we developed that over the course of six months as we were building this place. We are the only Irish pub restaurant in the area. So that kind of works in our favor. The closest competition may be a good few miles away. So when it comes to Irish food we’re the only guys around for right now. Our menu, we didn’t want to go too hardcore Irish. We could go real hardcore Irish and then you lose half the people cause everyone thinks, Hey, that’s just real hearty, heavy food. Especially when you’re sitting around on a day like this, some of those things you don’t want to be eating. So we talked about having a Southern twist on a lot of things.
The CLT Life: You have a BLT, but it’s an Irish version BLT.
Lee: It’s an RLT. We use a rasher style Irish bacon, instead of the normal American style bacon. So it was a little thicker, a little fattier.
The CLT Life: One of the other things I really love are the reuben rolls
Lee: We had a little bit of waste, good bits and pieces leftover. It seemed like an awful shame to be throwing these good bits in the trash. So we were like, well, you know what can we do with these? Roll them up, and make a little appetizer out of them. That has grown legs so fast that we’ve now had to cook corn beef just to make those.
The CLT Life: Why is it so important for people to support local businesses?
Lee: These places are unique. A lot of people who come in through the door, whether it’s here or an antique store, they put a lot of work in behind the scenes that you don’t see. So the only thing you see is the smiley face as you walk in the door. You’re not seeing the work that goes behind the scenes. They hire local, they’re buying local. So they’re trying to keep the local economy floating and moving along. Just for that one small reason, it’s always good to support local, and buy local. It just helps the economy, helps the town build, and helps the town grow.
The CLT Life: One of the things I’ve found, whether it’s Waxhaw, or any of the other small towns or communities around the Charlotte area, is that those businesses are really what give that local area its character. I love how the different businesses are. Obviously you’re competing for seats, and chairs, and people coming in, but you all seem to support one another.
Lee: Good competition is good for business, especially if you’re bringing in a concept, I don’t mean to blow myself up, but something that’s as good as what we’ve built and what we’ve got going on. Maxwell’s had been doing their thing for, I think nearly 10 years now, and you can see that they’re doing it really well. I hope that the fact that we’re here and we’re doing something good, that they’re getting business off of what we’re doing. I know for a fact that there are people that came from the Tap House that didn’t even know we existed. There are people that came here not knowing that the Tap House existed, so it’s always good. Everyone grows, everyone rises, everyone benefits. Like I said, that’s good for the town.
The CLT Life: Where are you located, and how can people keep up with you on social media?
Lee: We have two spots to find us, well three spots to find us. One is our website. It’s simply just www.maryoneills.com, on Instagram it’s simply @maryoneills, and on Facebook it’s maryoneillswaxhaw.
The CLT Life: Thank you so much for taking some time.
Lee: Thank you, Jimmy.
For more from Jimmy Grappone and the CLT Life, visit thecltlife.com, follow on Facebook at facebook.com/thecltlife704, and on Instagram at @theCLTlife704. Any questions or comments? Reach out to Jimmy Grappone by phone at (704) 318-4532, or by email at email@example.com