By Kayla Anderson
It’s been a tough six months for Nevada’s restaurants and bars due to the current Covid health pandemic but with a little ingenuity and creative thinking, a few local businesses have found a way to quickly pivot and persevere.
For instance, down in Sparks’ Victorian Square many popular food and drink establishments have had to close their doors, but ones such as Paddy & Irene’s have figured out how to stay open.
“We closed for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day, our biggest holiday celebration,” says Paddy & Irene’s Owner Patrice Luciano. The Irish bar opened back up in the beginning of June and closed again 42 days later after Governor Steve Sisolak issued another shutdown order. Therefore, to stay in business, Paddy & Irene’s had to do a little in-house remodeling.
“We had to close again because we didn’t have food,” Luciano says after the second shutdown, “so I turned my office space into a kitchen. I threw away my desk, took my computer home, and retiled the floor…basically we reinvented the wheel,” she chuckles. To raise money to remodel the space, Luciano started making and selling alcohol/holiday-themed care packages.
“During the shutdown the laws changed to be able to do to-go alcohol, so to raise money to build the kitchen I worked 10 hours a day for three weeks putting together gift baskets and doing deliveries,” Luciano says. On Cinco de Mayo, she put together margarita gift baskets, on Mother’s Day she sold baskets full of champagne, cups, and juice. When graduation came around, she put together UNR celebration packages. These care packages also gave the bar the chance to share its famed Bloody Mary mix.
“Everyone wanted my Bloody Mary mix, it’s my mom and Irene’s 20-year-old recipe. My mom used to be a manager here when Irene opened,” Luciano says.
The gift basket idea was widely successful, and after working long hours for three weeks straight she took the money and bought an espresso machine. Around that time, Paddy & Irene’s was able to start selling curbside alcohol and to-go coffee, but she wanted to have food items as well. Therefore, she pushed forward, getting her food permit, taking ServSafe classes, and doing everything she could to become compliant with the health department. And although the kitchen is small (“everyone calls it the baby kitchen, but it’s so efficient,” Luciano says), the pub is able to now sell breakfast sandwiches, bagels, breakfast burritos, and lunch items such as pizzas, toasted sub sandwiches, chicken wings, loaded fries and salads.
Paddy & Irene’s sources its coffee beans from Blind Dog and makes macchiatos, lattes, and other favorite espresso drinks.
“My last name is Luciano and so instead of making Caramel Frappuccinos we make Carmel Lucianos which everyone loves,” she says.
Coincidingly, Luciano also called up the City of Sparks and asked if they could expand their outdoor seating since indoor dining was still prohibited. Fortunately, the city granted her temporary permission to take over some more outdoor space; she says that they waived everyone’s patio fees for the remainder of this year in Victorian Square.
“Everything’s going well. I had this idea to be the first one on Victorian Avenue to offer breakfast about two years ago and now I’m kicking myself for not making it happen back then. Business has been taking off, though. I built up the outside, got some plants, it looks beautiful outside. It’s been a great transformation despite the pandemic,” she says.
She has an obvious passion for Paddy & Irene’s, having worked as a bartender there for 17 years before buying the establishment.
“I went to college and then joined the military, but I always gravitated back here, Paddy and Irene always welcomed me home with open arms,” Luciano says. She fondly remembers starting out at the bar as the margarita girl, serving the popular tequila drink to people during Sparks’ main events.
“Even now people will see me on the street and say, ‘you’re the margarita girl!’, it’s funny,” she laughs. Eager to get back to their home country, Paddy and Irene jokingly told Luciano that if she could come up with $25,000 by the next day then she could buy the pub. She went home and talked it over with her husband, soon after making the deal to become the new owner. Luciano still talks to Paddy and Irene often from afar. “I call them my pseudo Irish parents,” she laughs.
Now with three children ages twelve, eight, and six, Luciano’s family and her business make up her whole livelihood and she’s excited to be open and continue to improve their offerings. Paddy & Irene’s Irish Pub is located at 906 Victorian Avenue in Sparks. It’s currently changing its hours to accommodate demand but is generally open from 7 a.m.to11 p.m. Monday-Friday and opens at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Cutline: Paddy & Irene’s Irish Pub in Victorian Square recently started serving food and added outside seating to stay open during the pandemic.
By Kayla Anderson