By Jane Bartnett
It’s a great day here for the Irish!
On Dec. 10, the Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen opened in Crescent Plaza. Beyond the new faces, there were many old friends on hand who had come to know owners Ross and Louise Galbraith at Pub 32 — their former business on South Tamiami Trail. As they say in Ireland, a great time was had by all.
Siesta Key history was made when the pub, located at 6641 Midnight Pass Rd., officially opened. It is the first and only pub on all of Siesta Key.
In Gaelic, the native and ancient language of Ireland, the word “shebeen” can be defined as a speakeasy. With its cozy dark walls and seating for 29, the new pub has a feeling of an old-fashioned hideaway, tucked-in only a few doors away from the popular French restaurant Miguel’s.
“It took a lot to get here,” said Ross Galbraith. “We are very excited to be on Siesta Key. It’s been fantastic for us.”
The space became open when Scott Dolan, owner of neighboring Big Water Fish Market, consolidated his deli with his dining area.
The Northern Ireland natives first came to Sarasota in 2007. They’ve made Sarasota their home and Siesta Key is exactly where they had always wanted to run a charming Irish restaurant and pub. “We’ve been accepted onto the island with such warmth and friendship,” said Galbraith. “There’s a lot more hustle and bustle on this side of the Key and we’ve found great camaraderie here.”
Many fans of Pub 32 who came to know the couple during the restaurant’s 10-year run, treasured the live Irish music that the couple offered at their “public house.” The good news is that same Irish music will be featured at the Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen.
“I’m going to bring an acoustic guitar and we’ll have open mics for guitar playing and singing on some nights,” Galbraith said. “Clover’s Revenge, an Irish band, will also be playing.”
The Galbraiths closed their Pub 32 last summer when a rent increase made it impossible for them to remain in business. In less than six-month’s time, they were able to reinvent their business model and realize their dream of opening a new Irish pub on the Key.
As for the menu Galbraith reports that, just like Pub 32, all of the dishes at the Shebeen Irish Pub & Kitchen will be homemade from scratch. He promises that longtime favorites as well as “something different” will be on the menu. Galbraith’s Pub 32 burgers and Shepherd’s pie won rave reviews.
On a Facebook post when the Galbraiths were closing their Pub 32, they wrote: “Thanks to the help and support of our locals and regular customers we have managed to keep the pub afloat. We have made so many wonderful memories over the years. Thank you for being our village.”
Setting up shop in their new village offers lots of exciting opportunities to celebrate Irish culture and to introduce Siesta Key visitors and residents alike to Irish cuisine and to the Irish beverages that are treasured on the Emerald Isle. There will be Guinness stout, Harp lager, an Irish pale ale, and Smithwick’s red ale-style beer on tap, as well as Kilkenny lager and local offerings such as Calusa Beer, made in Sarasota.
Looking ahead, Galbraith said that he and Louise have already begun to plan for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March. “We’ve also been talking to the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce about a possible St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the future and other ways to celebrate our Irish heritage,” he said.
The business is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Hours for the kitchen are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bar will remain open beyond those hours. The business is closed Sundays.