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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Erin Go Bragh

Pledge allegiance to Ireland at Downtown’s new Irish pub.

Evansville diners who have long missed a local Irish restaurant don’t have to wait much longer to devour that first plate of fish and chips and chase it with a frosty pint of Guinness.

Patsy Hartigan’s Irish Pub will formally open by the end of June, says Joshua Pietrowski, who owns the upstart business at 203 Main St. with investor Alan “A.C.” Braun and fellow restaurateur Scott Schymik. Patrons enjoyed a soft opening June 20-21, with the grand opening slated for June 28-30. (The trio urges following the restaurant’s social media pages for details about the grand opening.)

Authenticity is what Patsy Hartigan’s is striving for above all else, Pietrowski says. That goes for the decor as well as the menu. Pietrowski and his partners went so far – literally – as to visit Ireland in January to sample cuisine and bring home treasures for the dining room walls. This followed a March 2023 sojourn to several Irish pubs in New York City.

Traditional Irish food, Pietrowski says, “probably makes up a good 75-80 percent of our menu. We’ve got a traditional American burger, and some appetizers we’ll put a twist on.”

Ribeye and walleye are the two main entrees. A turkey Reuben is among the many sandwich options, while Scotch eggs and beef and Guinness stew are other menu items prepared by head chef Will Frey, who came to Patsy Hartigan’s from Schymik’s Kitchen (named for its owner and one of Patsy Hartigan’s partners).

As for the atmosphere, Pietrowski says Patsy Hartigan’s isn’t a traditional sports bar, but several screens are stationed around the dining room, and Pietrowski envisions a lively scene for big soccer matches and Notre Dame football games.

Much of the wall decorations come from Ireland, although there are Evansville-centric items too, such as a newspaper front page from John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign visit to the River City. Pietrowski says Jack Fry’s restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, inspired the decor.

At Jack Fry’s, “the whole thing is just covered in pictures, and that’s what we’re going for here,” Pietrowski says. “If there’s wall space, there’s going to be something really cool on it and not just a light beer neon.”

Heather Vaught – the owner of fellow Main Street businesses River City Coffee and Goods and Memo – painted Patsy Hartigan’s interior and exterior in navy, green, and gold hues.

Evansville has been without an Irish pub since the 2018 closure of Rí Rá, a chain that was housed adjacent to the casino property now known as Bally’s Evansville.

Pietrowski, who also owns Doc’s Sports Bar on Stringtown Road, says Patsy Hartigan’s will offer daily lunch and dinner hours but will close on most Sunday nights so staff can recharge and spend time with families.

The ground-level space’s previous tenant, Hard Hiit Fitness, has moved to the building’s second floor.

Pietrowski looks forward to having diners in to experience the Irish authenticity he and his partners experienced on their own visits to the country.

“The goal is not for people to walk in and feel like it’s an Irish TGI Friday’s, but for people who have been to Ireland to say, this is exactly what it’s like over there,” he says.

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