March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

For pubs, the big day has arrived
Tim Moran, co-owner of the Halligan Tavern, will be serving up plenty of
fish-n-chips today, along with Irish breakfast starting at 6 a.m.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- It's St. Patrick's Day: Do you know where your bangers and rashers are? Tim Moran is hoping you know to find them at your neighborhood Irish pub, the Halligan Tavern, where the bangers — pork breakfast sausage — and rashers — thick cut bacon — will be ready by 6 a.m.
“I’ll be here by five,” said Moran, who is one year and some change into his big adventure into downtown Derry entrepreneurship. “We’ve learned a lot. There’s definitely been a learning curve.”
He and co-owner Daniel Mancini do most of the heavy lifting these days — Moran keeping glasses at the bar full,
 delivering plates to customers and answering phones, while Mancini oversees the kitchen. 

Daniel Mancini puts the Guinness in his Guinness
Shepherd’s Pie, all part of the preparation for the daylong
celebration of all things St. Patrick at the Halligan Tavern today. 
“I’m kind of all over the place,” said Mancini, filling a large tub with Guinness stout from the tap, a key ingredient for the Guinness Shepherd’s Pie he was working on yesterday in anticipation of a hungry holiday crowd. 
Since opening in January 2010, Derry has lost two of its signature eateries: the Depot Steakhouse, which closed in August, and the Pinkerton Tavern, which went dark last week. 
“We’re the first business, technically, as you enter the downtown, and as you drive through, it looks like every other business is vacant. They need to do something to encourage businesses to come in, maybe a tax break or something,” Moran said. 
For example, it helps whenever there’s an event downtown at the Adams Memorial Opera House. Revelers have no trouble finding their way across the street for dinner, or a late night snack and some drinks. 
More of that, more frequently, would help. 
Moran said it would be great if the town could attract more restaurants to the area to make Derry a dining destination again. That’s not his problem. 
For now, he’s focused on what he has to do to keep the customers coming back for more of what he brings, which is fresh-made food, authentic pub atmosphere and 24 beers on tap. 
“Business is good. Of course, we’d like to be busy every night, but between Trivia Tuesdays and the weekend crowd — and private parties upstairs — we’re doing all right,” said Moran, who is in constant motion, even when there’s no one seated at the bar. 
That’s because all the reasons that brought him to Derry persist. 
“It’s the fourth largest community, so just based on sheer numbers, it’s a great location. And I fell in love with the building, inside and out. It has character and history. We were ready for a change, and the time was right — even in a tough economy,” Moran said. 
Since opening, they have made some significant menu changes — dialing down menu selections, from high-end pub to blue-collar tavern. 
“We had to listen to what our customers were saying, and so we did make some changes to our menu,” said Mancini. “The high-end food wasn’t working for us. We’re hoping people who haven’t been in for a while will come in and get to know us again.” 
Moran and Mancini have plans to build a roof-top deck, which they see as a great draw, not only for their business but for the town during warmer weather. But for now, those plans are on hold, due to an unsettled lawsuit filed by an abutter who is claiming the town illegally approved the project. 
“That’s all still up in the air. It’s out of my hands, at the moment. But it’s something we’d still like to do,” Moran said. 
Otherwise, he is moving, full steam ahead, into what he hopes will be an even better year. He’s got the luck o’ the Irish on his side. “It doesn’t bother me. We’re just going to keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re not going anywhere,” Moran said. 

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