Eileen Carrigan now owns and operates the Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen in Crescent Plaza
By Jane Bartnett
Chef Eileen Carrigan, new owner of the Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen, is living her dream and was in perfect position to do so.
Carrigan, a culinary school graduate and former IT executive with a love for all things Irish, took the reins of the pub this summer that is a small slice of the Emerald Isle. After closing for the month of August, she re-opened Sept. 1.
“The response to our re-opening has been so gratifying,” said Carrigan.
She purchased Shebeen from former owners Ross and Louise Galbraith. The couple founded Shebeen after running their successful Pub 32 on South Tamiami Trail for many years. Carrigan, who was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia, relocated to Sarasota where she worked remotely for her California-based IT employer. She began taking culinary classes at Kaiser University and also joined the Galbraiths’ staff at Pub 32.
Her time spent at Pub 32 convinced her that it was time for a career change. Carrigan credits Ross and Louise with guiding and teaching her about the business. She would even learn how to manage large events, including Pub 32’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration that drew more than 1,000 people.
“They were my mentors,” she says of the couple. “I learned from them how a restaurant is run.”
And now with the pub established on the Key, located at 6641 Midnight Pass Rd. in Crescent Plaza, she wants to keep the momentum going.
“Ross and Louise achieved their goal of creating an Irish pub and a presence on Siesta Key. Ross had done a great amount of work here to create a welcoming true Irish pub,” Carrigan said.
Now, she’s adding her own touches to the place whose Gaelic name translates to speakeasy in English.
“So many people have told me that Siesta Key needed an Irish pub and that it’s been a long time coming,” she said.
During the short time that Carrigan has been welcoming her Siesta Key patrons, which included a “halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” party in mid-September, she’s added some exciting new additions to a menu that build upon the much-loved Irish favorites.
Additional indoor seating and new outdoor counter seating have also been added, along with two new flatscreen TVs so that rugby, football and soccer fans can come in and catch their favorite teams in action.
“We are still only a beer and wine bar,” said Carrigan, although canned cocktails are available.
She highly recommends the new Shebeen Guinness Bloody Mary. “It’s just outstanding, with a lovely float of Guinness,” she said with a laugh.
And, to go along with that bloody Mary? Carrigan suggests her new appetizer potato boxty. A staple of Irish cuisine, the dish is Carrigan’s interpretation of a potato pancake served with sour cream. Beef burgers and plant-based burgers are also popular choices. A personal favorite is a beet and goat-cheese salad served with house-made vinaigrette, flavored with cumin.
“We also have gluten and vegetarian options on our menu,” she noted.
Carrigan is also proud of her new daily dining specials. On Tuesdays, a different appetizer will be featured each week. Wednesdays are burger-and-pint day — choose a burger and the first pint of draft (including Guinness, Smithwicks Irish Ale and Harp), or a glass of house wine, is “on the house.” Thursday diners may select a special entree such as blackened red snapper over Carolina rice. Every Friday, enjoy fresh seafood chowder, made with mussels, clams, salmon and cod. For dessert, indulge in Shebeen’s house-made bread pudding or a slice of the decadent Mississippi mud pie.
Another new addition to Shebeen’s lineup is the weekday happy hour. Running from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, specials include $1-off drafts, house wine and cocktails. Appetizers include 1 pound of mussels for $10; Reuben sliders, $8; chicken wings, $7; beer cheese pretzels, $6; chicken tenders, $5; and boxty cakes, $4.
Of course, a traditional Irish pub needs a bit of music. Carrigan, who plays the bagpipes, has seen to that as well.
“We have live music on Thursday and Friday nights and I’m hoping to add a session, as they say in Ireland, that will feature traditional Irish music played by local musicians,” she said.
As the season gets underway in the coming weeks, Carrigan is expecting to open for lunch. Currently, Shebeen Pub opens its doors at 4 p.m. The kitchen closes at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday nights, the kitchen remains open until 9 p.m.
At the end of an evening, Shebeen closes its doors when the last patron says good night, Carrigan said.