Luck of the Irish: O’Doherty’s Grille downtown celebrates 30 years of Reubens, Guinness, songs and $1 payments

To meet husband-and-wife Tim O’Doherty and Sandra “Sam” O’Doherty, house owners of O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, is to really feel instantly at dwelling with their heat, Irish consolation meals classics – Reuben sandwiches, fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, stew and shepherd’s pie – and Tim’s infectious social gregariousness.

Tim and Sam opened O’Doherty’s on May 2, 1992, with Tim’s brother Shannon O’Doherty and their enterprise companion Terry Best simply previous to Bloomsday within the house that was initially the historic Coeur d’Alene resort.

Known as the place to face on the bar and sing a tune to place your $1 invoice on the wall, O’Doherty’s has been host to hundreds of shoppers celebrating weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.

The Hooligan & Hannigan, named for the long-gone restaurant of the identical identify, has been voted one of the best Reuben within the metropolis. During the anniversary month of May, the O’Doherty household wish to invite individuals to cease by and share a narrative about their historical past on the pub or electronic mail tales to

They hope to compile these reminiscences, together with their very own, in a guide commemorating 30 years. Tim and Sam, who’ve lived in Spokane for greater than 40 years, answered questions at their restaurant on Friday morning, the place regulars commingled with soon-to-be school graduates and their households:

Congratulations on O’Doherty’s thirtieth anniversary in downtown Spokane. Take me again to Day 1. What prompted

the 2 of you to begin O’Doherty’s 30 years in the past?

Tim: I discuss quite a bit, so I’m going to let my spouse begin (laughs).

Sam: Thirty years in the past, we met at Milford’s and had dated and labored there for 11 years. Our companion there had opened one other Milford’s in Boise. It didn’t do nicely, so he was returning to Spokane. At that point, Tim mentioned he was prepared for one thing else extra informal.

One day, he got here dwelling and mentioned, “I quit my job today” (laughs). We had achieved analysis about Irish pubs with Tim’s Irish heritage in thoughts. This was C.J. Timothy’s through the World’s Fair. It was a restaurant with a comedy membership within the basement. The stage continues to be down there.

When we got here to take a look at it, it was all closed up. At that time, we did lots of guide studying and analysis, as a result of we didn’t have the cash to go to Ireland, to work towards opening the pub. We labored actually arduous to get it open for Bloomsday in 1992, in order that was our first weekend open.

Did you wish to open an Irish pub in Spokane due to your heritage?

Tim: I went to school in Fresno State, so I used to enter town (San Francisco) and hand around in the Irish bars on Geary Street. I used to be an English main, so I’d faux to learn “Ulysses” within the bars. I used to be actually into my heritage, and when my enterprise companion mentioned he wished to make Milford’s extra formal, I didn’t suppose that I would slot in as a result of I’m a extra informal man.

I’m one in all seven children, and my dad’s a soccer coach and instructor. I felt like I wanted to be someplace the place I might simply be pleasant as a result of I put 7-Up in my wine (laughs). I felt on the time that the Irish group in Spokane was large. I don’t know if it’s Gonzaga or what?

Sam: I feel the historical past of the mines introduced lots of people to the world. There are lots of people right here who’re happy with their Irish heritage. That’s why the St. Patrick’s Day parade works so nicely – individuals wish to have a good time.

Do you bear in mind your first day, your first week, your first 12 months?

Sam: Some of it (laughs). The authentic menu was a placemat, and we have been going to do a mixture menu with half grilled chickens, and we couldn’t get these suckers cooked (laughs)! They saved getting despatched again as a result of they weren’t cooked all the way in which. We’ve undoubtedly advanced.

We had all kinds of individuals assist us construct this once we have been attempting to get it collectively. We actually did this on a shoestring and a prayer.

What have been your bestselling menu gadgets over time?

Tim: The Reuben has been the star over time together with the fish and chips. And nonetheless on Fridays, the Catholic group eats the fish and chips despite the fact that the rule of no meat on Fridays has lengthy been rescinded. They’re within the behavior of doing that.

And the much-maligned shepherd’s pie might be the third hottest merchandise.

Sam: And it’s actually a cottage pie as a result of we don’t use lamb as a result of lots of people don’t like lamb. Someone tells us not less than as soon as a month. Yes, we all know, however Americans don’t love lamb – it isn’t extensively acquired. We make a lamb shank, which is scrumptious. Our shepherd’s pie is hamburger, floor beef, and it’s well-loved.

What has been the key to

your 30 years of success?

Tim: I actually wish to emphasize that O’Doherty’s is the mixture of efforts of so many individuals and a very good variety of blessings from the Lord, too. … It’s additionally kismet, and also you’re grateful for it and acknowledge that it’s luck and lots of assist.

Sam: I’ll let you know that 95% of our success is Tim and his pure skill to make individuals really feel like they’re his greatest buddy. His brother and I’ve labored with him for 30 years and have watched and studied him. You both have it otherwise you don’t. He genuinely loves individuals and is interested by individuals, and persons are drawn to him.

People wish to come right here for the camaraderie and friendship. In our authentic marketing strategy, we wished O’Doherty’s to be like “Cheers,” a spot the place individuals know your identify and you’re feeling prefer it’s your second front room as a result of that’s what the pubs in Ireland are.

How did you survive the pandemic?

Sam: Day by day. It was essentially the most ever-changing panorama anyone’s ever seen. We tried issues – a few of them labored, and a few of them didn’t. We opened for to-go as a result of we have been shut down proper earlier than St. Patrick’s Day. To be sincere, our meals doesn’t journey nicely, so we stop to-go.

Every time they allowed us to reopen, we reopened. We did seating on the patio in December, which I’d’ve informed you we might by no means do in one million years. But we did it, and folks sat outdoors.

Tim: We shouldn’t have – it was terrible (laughs)! It wasn’t enjoyable being crammed in a tent.

Sam: We simply needed to reinvent day-to-day. We did restricted menu after restricted menu after restricted menu.

Tim: It was very useful that we have been established and debt-free.

So … 30 years – what’s subsequent?

Tim: That’s a very good query (laughs)! Personally, I’m nonetheless invigorated by what we do right here. The hours we work are shorter, and we trip extra. See extra of the world perhaps? But we’ve seen lots of the world.

Sam: I don’t know. I’d’ve informed you 5 years in the past that at 30 years, we might retire. But now that it’s right here, the reply is we don’t wish to retire. We actually benefit from the work. It’s actually satisfying on the finish of the day whenever you go dwelling and really feel such as you did a very good job.

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