// Kieran Folliard christens his new Block E pub with parade, pints //
A line of green-shirted wait staff and the scent of freshly dried plaster greeted the first guests at the new Kieran’s Irish Pub, which opened the afternoon of March 16, the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, in the old Bellanote space in Block E.
Owner Kieran Folliard unlocked the door to his new pub around 4 p.m., welcoming a throng of several hundred revelers who had paraded over from the old location, at the corner of South 4th Street and 2nd Avenue. The Brian Boru Pipe Band — with their traditional kilts, bagpipes and drums — lead the crowd into the 10,000-square-foot bar.
In addition to the move, the parade also commemorated the pub’s golden birthday, as it celebrated its 16th year of operation on March 16.
Crowds began gathering at the old Kieran’s location around 2 p.m., some clad in Kelley green, some in office-mandated business casual.
Marc and Kris, a couple from Bloomington, said that they had been coming to Kieran’s every weekend since the late ’90s.
“This has always felt like a peoples’ pub,” said Kris. “It’s the most cozy out of all of [Folliard’s] bars. It’s not pretentious. And it’s not a contrived American version of an Irish pub.”
With the registers shut down, bartenders poured free pints for a few hours, asking drinkers to leave a donation in one of several metal buckets. At 3 p.m., Adam Coolong from the Celtic rock band the Wild Colonial Bohys led a live auction for the final pints ever to be served at the old location.
Single beers went for hundreds of dollars a piece, and bidding grew quite competitive. Patron Tony Winick won the final pint of Guinness, pledging $500 for the honor. One woman paid $425 dollars for the final shot of Jameson.
All proceeds from the free pint donations and the auction went to Folliard’s commitment to send a 16-year-old Hopkins boy to this year’s World Cup in South Africa, as part of the Make-A-Wish program.
“If we knew we could get this much for our pints, I would’ve started having auctions years ago,” joked Folliard.
The bagpipers lead the parade down 4th Street, blocking traffic at the Nicollet Mall intersection near the Central Library. Longtime bartender Alice McGrath, who has worked at Kieran’s since it opened in 1994, marched arm-in-arm with Winick, who McGrath called “one of the longest regulars Kieran’s has ever had” and “an honorary employee.” Winick did not permit himself a sip of his prized pint until he reached the new bar, not spilling a drop on the way to Block E. McGrath also marched with a full glass of Guinness, keeping a perfect 1-inch head at brim level.
Folliard, whose lease at the old pub’s location doesn’t expire until July 2012, has said that he plans to re-open the space in May.
He’s got plans for an Irish-themed lunch and happy hour bistro, with hours from 11:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
And the name? The Old Pub.