A new Irish pub has emerged in Richardson with some beloved names behind the bar: Called Gillespie's Tavern, it's located at The Shire at CityLine, a center in Richardson at the corner of George Bush Turnpike and Jupiter Road, on the edge of east Plano.
Gillespie's has a crack team in husband-and-wife Romer Perez Gillespie and Heather Ward, who own Apollonia's Italian Kitchen, a highly regarded restaurant that is also at The Shire.
At Gillespie's, they're doing all your Irish pub basics: whiskeys, imported beers, and a starter menu of traditional pub food such as fish & chips and shepherd's pie.
Lending a hand on a consulting basis and injecting some of that authentic Irish pub flair is one Marius Donnelly, former owner of Trinity Hall Pub in Dallas' Mockingbird Station, which closed in 2021 after 20 years.
"Marius and I go way back to when we were both working for the Omni hotel chain," Gillespie says. "He was working at the Omni when he decided to do Trinity Hall. Now he's a friend, and has been helping us with training and with the whiskey program, where he has extensive knowledge. He's a legend as far as Irish restaurants go."
Gillespie's is also hosting live music and Donnelly is helping in that realm, as well. "He knows all of the Irish musicians since most of them all played at Trinity Hall," Gillespie says.
Gillespie himself is Irish-American and brings extensive knowledge in restaurant management.
"I've been in food & beverage almost 48 years, with the last 25 years or so working for Hilton and Hyatt and Wyndham," he says. "I was the F&B manager at the Gaylord when they sold to Marriott, and decided I didn't want to move anymore, and that's when we took a chance and opened Apollonia's."
Gillespie's has 150 to 175 whiskeys, bourbons, Scotch, and Irish whiskey, which you can get by the glass or via flights; eight beers on draft; and about 40-50 beers, local and imported, by the bottle or can.
"The can is the thing these days," Gillespie says. "Cans give you that keg flavor."
The food menu includes:
- traditional Reuben sandwich
- Tavern meatloaf
- Guinness stew pie with prime rib, served in a casserole dish
- chicken curry
- shepherd's pie with ground lamb
- bangers & mash
- fish & chips with cod and steak fries
- deviled eggs
- Irish nachos - potato chips topped with shepherd's pie mix, cheddar, bacon bits, served on a cast iron skillet
- salads including wedge, Cobb, kale-cabbage, and a Waldorf
- Reuben sliders
- Irish potato skins with corned beef and cheddar
- spinach-artichoke dip
Sides include the amazing Irish mashed potato dish known as colcannon, and they're also doing specials, Gillespie says.
"We're working the chalkboard, exactly like we do at Apollonia's, where whatever is popular on the chalkboard can become part of the regular menu," he says.
A few recent chalkboard specials include crab cake, blackened prime rib bites, and Cajun fried chicken sandwich.
Gillespie's took over the space at 3610 Shire Blvd. #108 that was previously Ye Shire Tavern. Many restaurants have opened and closed at the Shire, which was originally owned almost entirely by Dale Wamstad, founder of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse and III Forks Steakhouse. Wamstad still owns a restaurant called Texas, but sold off his other interests in The Shire a few years ago.
Once slightly isolated, the center has become surrounded by development including State Farm offices, hotels, and the massive CityLine complex.
"When we first bought Apollonia's, you could see all the way to US-75 but that's not the case anymore," Gillespie says. "A couple of other restaurants have recently opened including the very popular Anaya's Mexican, and the center is doing better than it ever has."