Chris Taylor was already decked out in his St. Paddy’s day garb on Thursday morning as he worked feverishly behind the scenes fielding phone calls and making last minute arrangements for the biggest day of the year for Grace O’Malley’s pub in Toronto’s entertainment district. Taylor, O’Malley’s general manager has been in the bar business for the better part of 20 years. He sat down with OurFaves half an hour before the bar’s doors opened to welcome St. Patrick’s Day revelers to talk about green beer, St. Patrick and the Irishman’s drink of choice…Guinness.
What are you expecting today?
Pandemonium. We’re the biggest Irish pub in downtown Toronto so every year, people come out of the wood work, especially all the regulars. I mean, everybody’s Irish today, right?
How much ale did you bring in for today?
A lot. Specifically, Guinness.
Will green be pouring out of the O’Malley taps?
So what’s in that stuff, anyway?
It’s just adding food colouring to the beer. Anything else would make the beer taste different so you’ve got to make sure you have something that doesn’t adjust the taste and flavour of the beer. Some people try and put it in Guinness and Kilkenny. It doesn’t really make sense, but whatever. To each his fancy that day.
Would you say Guinness will be the most in-demand beer today?
Keith’s is also really popular in Canada. It’s become a synonymous as a pub beer, but Guinness is most definitely the most popular beer that day. But it isn’t for everyone so we’ll go through a lot of Canadian, Coors Light and Keith’s.
How many people do you think will come through here in the course of the day?
At least a thousand.
How many staff do you have today?
We’re a full team. Normally, we wouldn’t have so many people on all day through to the night but it’s basically like a full pub bar environment right from mid-day on. It’ll start right after people get lunch into them. So you’re looking at 45 to 50 staff today including the bands.
Do you follow any traditions here?
Yes and no. Grace O’Malley’s is an east coast themed Irish pub based out of the bars in the Maritimes, specifically Newfoundland and Halifax. We try and book our entertainment around that. The traditional heritage…St. Patrick and the bar thing happened on its own. They’re not really synonymous. He brought Catholicism to the Irish. Shamrocks represent the trinity.
We’ll have professional actors who come in dressed as leprachauns and they do skits all afternoon. And we have traditional Irish dancers from a few different schools in Toronto. They come in and perform. And of course, there’ll be live musicians all day.
What makes you guys so special? Why should people come here?
I don’t know. Grace just has the best
crack “craic” in town. That’s what we do. Crack Craic?
It’s a Gaelic term that represents everything that makes a pub great and unique – the atmosphere, the people, the lighting. It’s just an all-out party. It’s just what we do.
Are you going to get to enjoy St. Paddy’s day tonight?
I’m working until 10 o’clock but afterwards, I’ll definitely be lifting up the Guinness in celebration when I’m done.
What are the biggest issues you’ll have to deal with on a day like today?
It’s a happy day. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a lot of altercations, fights or anything like that. There’s always a few bad apples, but we don’t have any on St. Paddy’s day. It’s a good crowd. If anything, pumping that sound system right from noon – our bands go right to 2 in the morning – I’m hoping that holds. That would be my biggest concern.
What are you most looking forward to?
The music. Getting all of the awesome bands and all of the regulars together. Everybody will be coming out today to hang out. It’s kind of like a family.
Looking for a place to get your green on tonight? Check out these purveyors of green ale:
Where: 14 Duncan St.
Why: “It’s exactly the way a pub should be – dark, cozy and comfortable, not too loud (unless there is live music), great drinks and pub food, and a friendly vibe.” Read more reviews
Where: 49 Yonge St.
Why: “It’s near the financial district (perfect for young professionals) and Bono can be seen there when U2 is in town.” Read more reviews
Where: 165 East Liberty St.
Why: “This Irish-style bar has numerous tiered patios to choose from with maximum sunlight… it is great for an afternoon with friends just hanging out and getting silly.” Read more reviews
Where: 803 King St. W
Why: “I love beef nachos and there is no better place than the Foggy Dew to get them AND they come with delicious guacamole too!” Read more reviews
Where: 143 Danforth Ave.
Why: “This Irish saloon on the Danforth cooks up some of Toronto’s best patio grub for the masses that frequent Allen’s. Upscale favourites like steak or lobster hit the grill Tuesdays through Saturdays. Hoist a lager while you feast on the barbequed treats…” Read more reviews
Where: 175 Eglinton Ave. E
Why: “It has a great atmosphere, diverse crowd, amazing pub food and fantastic live music. A Yonge and Eglinton Must for St. Patty’s Day!” Read more reviews
Where: 518 Church St.
Why: “The staff is great & you are sure to have a great time all the time! People watching on the patio…nothing beats it.” Read more reviews
Where: 489 King St. W
Why: “The food is great, and the service is friendly, and reliable. I hate going to those pretencious King street restaurants. This place is what it is. Great value, and great food.” Read more reviews
Interview and photos by Maria Cootauco