Dublin native Alan Kearney is one of our favorite local Irishmen.
He talks fast and energetically, while juggling multiple restaurants here in Dallas and Ireland. He's also got an inherent Irish optimism. And as we all get our heads around the term “social distancing,” it’s hard to imagine Dallas not embracing St. Patrick’s Day with a giant bear hug and a kiss.
Alas, cities around the country are sadly canceling parades, as they should. And it hurts — we know.
We've faced adversity before. Awful adversity, but in keeping things light: Remember that time the Greenville St. Patrick's Day Parade was going to be canceled, and Mark Cuban saved it? That was great.
It was 2012, and the Greenville Restaurant Association lost a major sponsor at the last minute. At the time I interviewed Jorge Levy, who owns Desperados on Upper Greenville and was in charge of signing the checks. A customer suggested he contact Cuban.
I'll never forget this part from the interview:
"I sent him an email and told him the situation and asked if he could help. He replied in seven minutes. He said he couldn't let the tradition die; it's part of Dallas. He said he lost too many brain cells in his younger days due to the Greenville parade. He said he'd send me the 40 [thousand] that we were short, plus $25,000 for the scholarship fund for DISD."
See? As a city, we can come together and make great things happen. Actually, keep a safe distance while coming together, but keep your chin up! Kearney certainly is. We tracked him down recently to talk about how we should celebrate St. Patrick's Day without parading.
“First I’d recommend you put a good lining down to start the day,” Kearney suggests.
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In Irish-speak, that means filling your belly with a proper full Irish breakfast of blood sausage, eggs, bacon, baked beans and fried tomatoes. Adding that in Ireland, "We always start St. Patrick’s day with a pint of Guinness in the morning.”
Otherwise, all the festivities will go on at his pubs. After a quick hustle through Facebook pages, it's business as usual at a lot of the other Irish pubs around town.
Kearney says business at his bar in Ireland is down around 90%. But Dallas isn’t anywhere near that. He expects, begrudgingly, that a slowdown could cycle through locally, but wants us to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
“On St. Patrick's Day, all week actually, we’ll have green beer, corned beef and cabbage stack, of course we'll also have shepherd’s pie," he says. "But St. Patrick’s Day is really about culture. And my amazing staff, most of who have been with me since day one, they’re the one that make it a good pub. So, just go out and visit any pub. There are so many great ones around the city.”