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New Irish pub racing to open before St. Patrick's Day
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Bryan McGonigal is owner of McGonigal's Pub on Cook Street in downtown Barrington.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Steve Berry, left, owner of Park Avenue Wine Bar and Merchant and Bryan McGonigal, owner of McGonigal's Pub. stand in the wine bar portion of the establishment on Cook Street in downtown Barrington.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Artist Kasia Zarow of West Dundee works on the signage at McGonigal's Pub on Cook Street in downtown Barrington.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

This is the upstairs bar portion of McGonigal's Pub on Cook Street in downtown Barrington.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/4/2010 12:17 PM

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A long-dreamt idea of an English or Irish pub for downtown Barrington is finally on its way to breathing new life into a struggling economy.

Behind the still-closed doors of McGonigal's Pub and Wine Bar, final preparations are moving at a feverish pace in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day.

Co-owner and Barrington resident Bryan McGonigal is now quite confident of a quiet opening on either Monday or Tuesday with the formal ribbon-cutting planned for 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 12.

He has high hopes for his and his family's first self-owned business.

"This really hasn't been my industry. I've been a professional customer for 20 years," McGonigal laughs.

Though he's lived in Barrington for a dozen years now, McGonigal spent much of his previous life in Palatine where he came to love the atmosphere of such haunts as Durty Nellie's and Lamplighter Inn Tavern & Grille.

Having had a successful career at Medline Industries, a medical supply manufacturer in Mundelein, McGonigal began thinking seriously a couple years ago about opening a pub of his own.

He began looking all over the Northwest suburbs for a suitable location before narrowing down his selection to either Barrington or Lake Zurich.

"I wasn't thinking town-first at the beginning, I was thinking about where I'm going to be successful," McGonigal said.

But after hearing Barrington Village President Karen Darch's state-of-the-village address in early 2009, he realized that Barrington was looking for a partner for just such a boost for the downtown.

After that, things began to fall into place very quickly. McGonigal was able to buy the prominent Wolf Camera site at 105 S. Cook Street, which had once been a restaurant site.

During all the years the idea of a downtown pub has been touted in Barrington, so visible a location has never been available.

Barrington's Economic Development Director Peggy Blanchard said the pub and wine bar's prominent placement creates a new buzz for the downtown that will draw fresh attention to its existing restaurants and retail stores as well as attracting even more.

The wine bar will obviously cater to a different crowd than the pub and will be run by McGonigal's brother-in-law, Steve Berry, who also lives in the village.

"A pub and a wine bar don't really mix in the same room," McGonigal said.

Yet, the design of the building allows the two businesses to share a common entryway, restrooms and a kitchen. The same executive chef will prepare both menus.

The pub and wine bar will each have two floors of 2,500 square feet. The pub can seat 100 people upstairs and 85 downstairs, while the wine bar has a capacity of about 60 on its lower levels and private rooms upstairs with space for about 20 to 30 more.

The pub also boasts two stages for musical entertainment as well as numerous HD TVs for sports events.

The pressure to be open by St. Patrick's Day has always loomed large in McGonigal's plans. At the very start seemed like it would be an easy task. In fact, an early, naive ambition was to be open before Christmas.

Since the beginning of the year, being open by the second week of March has seemed a realistic goal, even if it's required hectic activity in the past few weeks, McGonigal said.

But opening day is still the reward everyone's working so hard for.

"When we have our first paying customer, I'll take a breath, knowing my life just got more difficult," McGonigal joked.