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Wild Rover Public House and Bistro coming

March 30, 2009
By CHRISTOPHER DIEM Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - Slinte! A new Irish pub is coming to Marquette.

The Wild Rover Public House and Bistro will feature authentic Irish cuisine and European beer.

Renovation of the pub, located in downtown Marquette on Washington Street, began in November and should be done by mid-April, according to owner Brian White.

"The Wild Rover Public House and Bistro is 25 years of working in the industry, mostly Irish pubs around the country. It's been in the back of my mind ever since I started in the business," White said, adding that he has worked in Irish pubs in Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Colorado.

White says he has lived in Marquette on and off for the past 10 years and when the building, which formerly housed Jeffrey's Cafe, came up for sale he jumped at the chance.

"I think the Marquette market is fantastic for this. There's nothing like it in Marquette or the U.P.," he said. "I think we'll just add to the flavor of downtown Marquette and be able to bring more people down here."

White grew up eating traditional Irish meals and still has relatives in Cork, Ireland. He said the restaurant will serve shepherd's pie, boxty, bangers and champ, corn beef and cabbage and other traditional Irish fare.

The pub will have a wraparound bar with 12 taps on each side featuring European beer such as Guinness, Harp, Bass, Newcastle and Boddingtons. Over 40 different bottled beers will also be available. The restaurant will seat 75 to 85 people.

"There's a feel to walking into an Irish pub. It's very comfortable. It's very laid back. The fact that at least once a year everybody claims to be Irish doesn't hurt," White said, referring to St. Patrick's Day. "It's a place for people to go and talk. The history of the public house is it was a place to gather in meetings to overthrow governments and that type of thing. It's just a very comfortable atmosphere."

Live bands, playing Irish music, will complete the atmosphere. White said he'll recruit local bands to play during the evenings, but he will also seek out bands from Chicago, Milwaukee, lower Michigan and Minnesota to play on Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant, with 30 full-time and part-time staff members, will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday.

The building's renovation won't stop on the ground floor, White said. In the fall he and his partners, Mike Anderson, Peter Lassing and Jim Ross, will start turning the second floor into an Irish sports pub.

"It will have more of a warehouse look to it," he said. "It will have pool tables, dart boards, a shuffle board, another larger bar, a cigar bar, fireplace and a bigger stage for bands."

The Wild Rover's executive chef and sous chef have been training for three months to learn the different Irish dishes, White said.

"I will be bartending," White said. "Most of my experience comes from either bartending or managing. To be able to get back behind the bar again, especially in your own place, is fantastic."

White said interest in the pub is already strong and people called him earlier this month asking to make reservations for St. Patrick's Day.

"Unfortunately we won't be open for St. Pat's but it's probably a good thing. There's no way I want to throw a brand new crew into a brand new Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day," he said. "First impressions are very important so when we open the doors we want it to be perfect."



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