An essential category of bar is debuting in downtown Dallas: the Irish pub. Called Crafty Irishman Public House, it'll open in fall 2016 in the Mercantile building on Main Street.
It's the latest in a series of exciting doings in downtown Dallas, which is beginning to rival entertainment hot spots like Greenville Avenue and Deep Ellum for big bar-and-restaurant action. Irish pubs are also one of Dallas' favorite bar concepts, with numerous players such as the Dubliner, Old Monk, and Trinity Hall.
Crafty Irishman will actually be a pub and a little more, with customer-friendly hours that begin early and offerings that evolve as the day unfolds. In the morning, there'll be coffee and pastries. Lunch will be salads and sandwiches. Dinner will be a pub in all its glory with scotch, whiskey, beers, and fish and chips.
The bar comes from Alan Kearney, a native of Ireland who grew up in the hospitality business and knows the Irish pub world firsthand.
"This will be an Irish bar that fits the neighborhood," he says. "We'll have some of the dishes people expect, like fish and chips, Scotch eggs, and bangers and mash, but with our own twist."
There'll be bar staples such as wings and flatbreads, but with toppings not commonly found, such as potato. And they'll make everything from scratch, with recipes that he and his staff have tested for more than a year.
"In Irish pubs, they say, 'We paddle our own boat' — we do our own thing," he says. "'Hand-crafted' is an overused word, but that's what we'll be doing."
The bar will have a shape-shifting personality that meets the needs of downtown workers and residents alike.
"In the morning, we'll be like a coffee shop crossed with a convenience store," Kearney says. "We'll do fancy coffees and flasks where you can serve yourself and get a cup of coffee for $2. But we can also make you a mocha or a cappuccino. We'll be making our own cinnamon rolls and have bagels with egg, sausage, and bacon."
At lunchtime, the emphasis will be on fast service, with salads and sandwiches. "But if you want fish and chips, the answer is never no," Kearney says.
The bar will stock more than 100 scotches and whiskeys and about 50 craft beers. There'll be a patio with space for 40 to 60 people and room for 50 seats inside.
The pub will take over the space most recently occupied by Capriotti's, which closed in 2015. Prior to that, it was the Mercantile Coffeehouse, which closed in 2012. Capriotti's closure was part of a withdrawal of the franchise from the Dallas area. Mercantile Coffeehouse served coffee from Intelligentsia, the acclaimed bean company from Chicago, but kept inconsistent hours.
Crafty Irishman is still under construction, and the actual opening date will hinge on getting the staff in place. "Service is one of the most important elements," he says. "We're looking to be a neighborhood bar, but also a business bar. We have to be able to connect with our guests."
He knows what downtown needs since he's a resident himself. "I could see the potential for an Irish bar, but I was waiting to find the right location," he says. "I want to support the scene where I live. The bohemian atmosphere is growing, and we want to be part of that."