McStorlie’s to offer Irish food
February 2, 2004
McStorlie’s Pub, Aspen’s only Irish bar, will soon offer an expanded menu featuring food from across the pond.
Customers can expect to see steak and kidney pies, mince pies and imported chocolate and teas at the neighborhood pub in the coming weeks. Co-owner Ben Niiler said the Irish pub concept is popular around the world, and McStorlie’s is morphing into an international pub to match Aspen’s international residents.
“We’re expanding the kitchen from our current menu of just burgers and fish and chips,” he said. “We’ll be using our kitchen space better and trying to bring more people in between 5 and 8 p.m.”
McStorlie’s has been operating out of its garden-level space on Hunter Avenue for eight years. Niiler has two silent partners, and Aspen resident Dennis McGlinn, a bartender at the J-Bar, recently became a partner.
The pub is also welcoming a new kitchen manager, Paul Coffey, who is planning the food expansion.
Coffey, originally from Dublin, Ireland, has been in Aspen since 1997.
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“In time, I’ve seen a lot of foreigners in Aspen ” Irish, English, Aussies and Kiwis, but our food for locals here is Mexican, Italian, Japanese and American,” he said. “We have so many types of food here, but nothing for a majority of the work force.”
Niiler said when the pub was being set up, he and his partners “winged the whole food-service thing,” teaching themselves the basics of burgers and fish and chips. He said the bar is extremely busy from 9 p.m. to midnight, but empty during dinner hours, and they need to supplement their alcohol sales with food sales in order to be able to afford Aspen-size rent.
“We’re not cutting it in a town with the kind of rent we’re expected to pay, and we’re not just doing this for our health,” Niiler said with a laugh. “This is a business, not a charity.”
Coffey said he sees the new pub menu as filling a niche in the marketplace, since no other restaurants cater to foreigners. Over the years as a bouncer at various clubs in Aspen, he said he saw many people from overseas and specifically asked them what they missed as Aspen residents.
“There’s only so many burgers, pizzas and Japanese food you can eat until you want something good and greasy,” Coffey said.
The bar also hopes to offer food for a late-night crowd, keeping the kitchen open until 10:30 or 11 p.m., and then reopening for the drinking crowd at 12:30 a.m.
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