Among the blight of Sioux City’s oldest blocks, Pearl Street’s McCarthy & Bailey’s is a bright spot.
“Pearl Street was the original entertainment zone for obvious reasons, and I think we’re giving it another breath of fresh air.”
More than just an Irish Pub, co-owner Rick Bertrand considers it the anchor for the revitalization project he under took two years ago.
“With the outside of it, the whole goal of it was to feel like you’re in downtown Chicago,” he explained.
A dream on paper that took ten years to get off the ground.
During that time, “When we went around the country, my brother and I, tried to pick out unique things from each Irish pub,” recounted Bertrand.
It’s as authentic as you can get without crossing the Atlantic,
“This right here is original cobblestone that we got north of Dublin,” pointed Bertrand to the entryway.
They also brought in 22 tons of slate from Ireland. Underneath an Irish blessing scribed on the wall, is a bishop’s chair, shipped in from the motherland.
“We’ll get wedding parties come in here and they have the bride and the groom sit here and then normally he best man gets up on the pulpit,” Bertrand explained.
The bar was imported from Ireland too. It’s more than a century old.
“The bar itself is a solid mahogany. It’s circa 1903-1905. It came out of Meath County, and I almost feel like we built the bar around it.”
Bertrand says Irish pubs started in burned out churches during the revolution.
“There is a hint of religion that goes with an Irish pub, a catholic bar.”
Little by little, he’s created his own sanctuary.
As a good Catholic, Bertrand closes down on Sundays and Mondays. Any other day of the week you’re likely to find some religious relics.
“This actually came out of a church in Danbury, Iowa, the old St. Patrick’s church. And, I talked to the bishop, I talked to the local priest and I’m not doing nothing wrong. It’s a great piece, to have St. Pat life size sitting in the corner,” said Bertrand of a statue of St. Patrick. “You know this basically dates back to the 1870’s, authentic church pew,” he added.
He’s left some of the decorating to his patrons.
“What we’re finding out is that people from the community keep bringing in heirlooms. If you look around the pub, things just keep showing up, and that’s what’s fun about it.”
It was also important to keep a piece of Pearl’s past.
“This is Swedes old dart room here,” said Bertrand, walking into a bar within the bar. Before there was McCarthy & Bailey’s there was the original B.A.’s. Before that there was Swedes. This cubby is one of many out of the way areas, or snugs, as Bertrand likes to call them, in the bar.
Other little touches, like the stained glass, harken back to a bygone era.
“We wanted to connect a little bit of the old and the new of Sioux City. This actually came from out of the old Saint Anthony’s orphanage out of Sioux City,” said Bertrand of some of the stained glass in his pub.
Everything inside McCarthy & Bailey’s is authentically Irish, even down to the menu.
“Traditional shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, Irish bangers and mashed potatoes with a little gravy. Obviously fish and chips,” listed the restaurant’s chef Nick Gunn.
What goes better with a fish and chips than a pint? Not everything in this establishment is old. McCarthy & Bailey’s uses frozen tap technology to pour some of the coldest beer in the Midwest.”
“It’s the coldest you can get beer, without freezing it. There’s not another system like it in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota,” stated Bertrand.
Neither the old nor the new rank as Bertrand’s favorite part of the pub. It’s the people.
“From a 21 year old to a 91 year old, comes in, and they all appreciate and understand and enjoy the authenticity of it, and that it’s not just a bar with a bunch of beer signs on it. That it’s decorating itself, that there’s a long term plan for this pub to really be a destination for Sioux City, an anchor project for Pearl Street.”
McCarthy and Bailey’s was named after two important Irish people in Bertrand’s life, his wife and his best friend and business partner.
Open since last June, the pub is not the new kid on the block. We’ll take you inside the newest business that will have you “playing on Pearl,” Sunday on News Four.
Source: Kristen Johnson, ktiv.com