New business on tap for former Blarney Stone digs

Red Deer residents looking to sit down with a meal and a beer will soon have a new option in old premises.

Workmen wrap up the last of renovations before carpets are laid inside the Cork’d Taphouse and Grill in Bower Plaza Monday.

Workmen wrap up the last of renovations before carpets are laid inside the Cork’d Taphouse and Grill in Bower Plaza Monday.

Red Deer residents looking to sit down with a meal and a beer will soon have a new option in old premises.

Cork’d Taphouse & Grill is expected to open by mid-March in Bower Plaza, at No. 100, 2325 Gaetz Ave. — the former location of Blarney Stone Pub South. But aside from its address, the new business will have little in common with its predecessor.

“We did an absolute and complete makeover,” said managing partner Darren McArthur, speculating that the space — which also previously operated as the Crown and Anchor Pub and Dakota’s Sports Pub and Grill — had not been altered much in 20 years.

Reflective of its name, Cork’d Taphouse & Grill will offer patrons more than a dozen choices of draft beer, said McArthur.

“We’ve got a state-of-the-art draft system that we put in.”

On the food side, the business is partnering with Restaurant 27 owners Dwayne and Darren Gauthier.

“Darren and Duane created and designed a menu based on their passion for food but for a more fun and casual environment,” said McArthur, listing “international wings and gourmet burgers” as among the options.

It’s difficult to classify Cork’d Taphouse & Grill as strictly a pub or a restaurant, he added, but 16 big-screen TVs will be strategically installed throughout.

There will be seating for about 275.

McArthur is no stranger to the local pub and restaurant industry, having owned Cobby’s Bar and Grill (now Chillabongs) for 16 years and holding an interest in East 40th Pub before that.

“I’ve been doing this for probably the last 20 years in Red Deer.”

In the case of Cork’d Taphouse & Grill, McArthur is working with his wife Tammy, his brother Bob, and his friends Duane and Dalyce Seefried.

He’s optimistic the renovations, which have been underway since early January, and the new theme will breathe renewed life into an establishment that was once a Red Deer hot spot. In fact, McArthur remembers lining up to get into the former Crown and Anchor when it used to attract a steady stream of customers from nearby Gaetz Avenue.

“That’s one of the reasons we picked this spot, because of its high exposure.”

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