At Ireland’s, a Loyola Limited-run pub, eating comes before drinking.
Catering to all students — not just the 21-and-older crowd — has been a priority for Ireland’s since it opened in November, 2014. Now, with the planned expansion of the drink menu to include more non-alcoholic drinks, the pub’s management hopes to increase its popularity with students under the legal drinking age.
“We are planning on expanding our drink selection so we can carry more variety,” said senior Arantxa Valverde, Ireland’s president. “This includes non-alcoholic apple cider and ginger ale so we can cater to the population on campus that is not of [drinking] age.”
Ireland’s, located in the basement of the Damen Student Center, is also working on increasing the number of weekly events, such as trivia nights, Mario Kart tournaments and “Wine Wednesdays,” which would feature a rotating menu of regionally concentrated wines. Valverde is working to entice campus groups to rent the space for special events by partnering with Felice’s Kitchen, another Loyola Limited brand, to expand Ireland’s catering menu.
“We have improved the reservation process, the catered menu and the experience as a whole,” the 21-year-old operations management and international business double major said. “We plan to push this more within university departments since there is a lot of interest to have events in Ireland’s.”
Senior Alexandra Ofori-Atta, Loyola Limited’s chief marketing officer, said that Ireland’s has been focused on providing a space for students to meet, relax and eat rather than serving as a drinking destination.
“We were never trying to be sort of like P.Co’s or 63,” said the ad/PR major, 21, referring to two of the neighborhood bars near the Lake Shore Campus. “We were never going to serve hard liquor. It was never part of our idea — we do beer and wine. We did a lot of research on different college campuses and their bars and just felt that this fit the best for us.”
Ireland’s liquor license choice reflects the decision to put socializing and food before drinking, Ofori-Atta said.
Ireland’s has a Consumption on Premises — Incidental Activity liquor license, which means that serving alcohol isn’t the first order of business. Between July 1 and Sept. 1, Ireland’s total revenues were 59.8 percent from food, 30.9 percent from alcohol and 9.3 percent from hosting events, according to Valverde.
The pub’s largest costs are wages for its 16 employees and resale costs attached to buying “the best quality inventory” from local food suppliers and breweries, said Valverde. The bar has three types of beer on tap for $5.50 a pint and usually two or three types of wine on hand, at least one red and one white, for $6.50 a glass. Food offerings range from $3.50 to $6.00.
Having an incidental consumption license means students under 21 are allowed to be in the space. If Ireland’s had a tavern license (which is requisite when alcohol sales are the primary driver of business), it wouldn’t be able to let underage students in the pub.
“We don’t want to limit the space [by having an age limit],” Valverde said.
Students, such as Anna Sobon, 19, who previously were only able to choose between water and a limited pop selection are looking forward to a wider selection of drinks at Ireland’s.
“If they offered hot apple cider it would be great for the fall season,” said the sophomore social work major. “I like going for the great atmosphere already, but just drinking water gets old.”
Ireland’s regulars, like senior Andrew Harris, sing the pub’s praises.
“The bartenders are great, the food is delicious and they’re constantly rotating the taps with local favorites,” said the 21-year-old accounting major. “It’s a fantastic place to relax and enjoy a beer.”