Donegal Saloon Interview

Source: Kate Kowsh, The Jersey Journal

Thurs, Aug 18th, 2011

From the Bronx to Ireland and back again. That’s part of the history of the Donegal Saloon in Kearny, where you’ll occasionally find entertainment as well as a welcoming atmosphere. [The owner is Kevin Wallace, 38]

How did you get your start?

Kevin: “I grew up in the Bronx, and (as a kid) I moved to Ireland. That’s where the name of our bar comes from. We had a lot of family land there. My father had 13 members in his family. My mother wanted us all to go to college, so we moved back to the Bronx. I ended up in Jersey to go to New Jersey Institute of Technology.”

How long has the tavern been in business?

Kevin: “We bought it 6 years ago.”

What will you find inside?

Kevin: “Basically, it was me, my brother (and) my father who renovated the bar. We renovated the whole bar with 125 year-old red oak wood from an Amish Barn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When we first went to Kearny, there were no other bars that had microbrews. We pretty much brought, like an Irish version of an Irish bar. We transform the bar on the weekend. We put the pool table away and we have live bands. We try to have a lot of original acts, we have Irish music, Latin music. It brings in different types of crowds. The one thing everybody loves is music.”

What are the price points?

Kevin: “Our prices are very cheap. Draft Bud is $3 per pint. The bottles are $3.50. Imported beers (are) $4 per bottle.”

What makes the place unique?

Kevin: “We’re, like, the only place around that has live music. We’ve had some top-notch acts. A lot of small artists, (who) have actually started off playing in our bar, are now playing all over the county.”

Who does the bar cater to?

Kevin: “We’re in a blue collar town. It has a very blue-collar atmosphere. The way the bar is, anyone is welcome.”

What are the owner’s plans for the business?

Kevin: “I would like to open another saloon in downtown Newark. The Donegal was named after the town my father’s from (in Ireland), and my plan for the future is to open a bar in downtown Newark named after the town my mother’s from. That’s Sligo.”

What do you like best about your location and business?

Kevin: “I’d say, the people. There’s just an eclectic group of people over there. They’re very interesting. I’m a very people person. I enjoy talking to people.”

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