Staff at Red Deer’s Fionn McCool’s were busy on Tuesday preparing for the opening of the Irish Pub.

Right time, right place for Irish pub

Red Deer is thousands of kilometres and an ocean away from Ireland. But the city now has a pub where Guinness, Kilkenny and Harp beers flow freely.

Red Deer is thousands of kilometres and an ocean away from Ireland. But the city now has a pub where Guinness, Kilkenny and Harp beers flow freely.

“You don’t get much more Irish than those three,” pointed out Murry Felt, operating partner of Red Deer’s new Fionn MacCool’s franchise.

The business opens today at 1935 Gaetz Ave., the former location of Kelsey’s Restaurant. It has seating for 204, and 16 beers on tap — ranging from standard domestic choices to less common options, like Foundry cider from the United Kingdom.

“A wide range of different styles of beer that change seasonally too,” said Felt.

On the food side, Fionn MacCool’s menu extends from soups and sandwiches to shepherd’s pie and Rosslare lamb shank. All are prepared in-house, he said.

“The food is made from scratch; it’s not your typical pub fare.”

Regular live entertainment is planned, with performers running the gamut from “coffee house acts to cover rock bands,” said Felt. Local and out-of-town talent will be booked, he added.

“We will try to mix in some East Coast bands, a little bit of everything. We’ve talked about even time to time bringing in a little bit of country.”

Fionn MacCool’s is a brand of Prime Restaurants Inc., with just over 20 operating or scheduled to open in Canada. These include two locations in each of Calgary and Edmonton.

Felt, who is also a partner in Red Deer’s East Side Mario’s — another Prime Restaurants brand — said Fionn MacCool’s offers a comfortable atmosphere where people can socialize with friends.

“People who don’t want to go where there’s loud music, and UFC on the TV.”

Felt thinks the pub’s location along busy Gaetz Avenue, and near Westerner Park and a growing retail area, is a good one. He also believes Red Deer has the right demographics for a Fionn MacCool’s.

“The time is right and the location is right and the atmosphere is going to be a party — it’s going to be like you’d have in your home with your friends.”

The pub is expected to employ between 50 and 60 full- and part-time staff.

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