NEWS – Walsh’s wins RAI’s ‘Pub of the Year’ Award
EVG’s pub guru ‘Ado Davis‘ tracks down the Proprietor of Walsh’s in Stoneybatter, Anthony Malone[Anto], to discuss Walsh’s latest accolade and pick his brains about the industry, and some of the challenges he’s faced.
For the last few years, residents of Stoneybatter have been keeping a secret. Walsh’s pub on Manor Street is a tucked away little gem that has been growing in popularity and stature for the past decade or so.
Now, having won the ‘Pub of the Year’ Dublin, and Ireland Award from the Restaurant Association of Ireland, that secret is out – and the business owner, Anthony Malone (Anto) is delighted!
I caught up with Anto recently to find out what it means to him and pick his brains about all things Pub!
AD: So, the Pub of the year! Tell us a bit about that…
Anto: Well, we got nominated, probably by Bushmills, who sponsor it, and over April and May this year two mystery shoppers came into us and marked us. They marked everything from mood and atmosphere, lighting, toilets to service and quality of the product. Then I got notified and was told we had beaten the likes of The Palace Bar (Fleet Street), The Stags Head (off Dame Street, The Long Hall (Georges Street)and Peters Pub (South William St) – to the Best Pub in Dublin Award.
I forgot all about it ’till a couple of months ago – when I was notified about winning the Munster and then the Ireland categories too. Didn’t even know we were put forward for them! So it came as a great surprise!
AD: And deservedly so!!! Tell us a bit about yourself, what were you at before here?
Anto: So I served my time in the Anglers Rest in the Strawberry Beds, then moved on to Kylies in Donnybrook for a good few years. After that, I was in Kylies (and K3) in Liffey Street, before taking the lease here.
AD: You’ve been here about 10 years now , and in that time the area has been growing in popularity, with competition coming in all shapes and sizes from the Belfry across the road reopening to Barbers on the top of Grangegorman and Mulligans re-opening as a gastro – tell me, what is it about Walsh’s that sets it apart from the others?
Anto: Well were a firm traditional pub. We value a good pint in immaculate traditional surroundings, and that’s what our customers value too. A proper pint with friendly staff.
AD: How have you been competing with places like the Belfrey and Glimmerman,. and Tommy O’ Gara’s now the good weather has been here for a while. I see you’ve no smoking area/ beer garden.
Anto: I don’t really view these places as competition. What’s good for the area is good for me – and everyone else. Stoneybatter is now turning into a destination area, with people coming for the selection of food options and then staying in the area for the pints.
John Farrell will be opening a new place next door soon – and that can only be good, he’s known as an excellent operator.
The World Cup has been great for getting people in – and of course, the Stoneybatter festival is growing – so even with the good weather, I’m up on every other year this summer so far.
We also have a couple of well-respected music sessions on Sundays – Lisa O’Neill plays here, and on Mondays, a band called the Vagabonds play, so that brings them in, no matter what the weather.
AD: I believe you have a novel event here on Tuesdays called ‘Cheesy Tuesdays!’ – tell me how that started –
Anto: Well it started with the locals really. There’s a couple here who asked me if they would mind bringing in a bit of cheese in to have with their wine – and I suppose it just grew legs and kept getting bigger.
Now I throw out a few choice cheese boards every Tuesday and people come from far and wide to enjoy – and talk all things cheese with likeminded people.
We have a charity event twice a year – the last one we had we raised €2,300 for the Simon Community – which was great. A lot of the regulars here work in the media – so that gave us great access to prizes (tickets to events etc).
To complement this I put a lot of work in to make sure the wines I stock are of the highest quality. I try to stock artisan suppliers for both my wine and craft beer and steer away from the large better-known brands.
AD: What is the biggest challenge facing you as a publican?
Anto: Without a doubt its finding good staff. People these days don’t seem to want a career in the hospitality industry, and young people don’t want to serve their time learning the trade – So it’s always hard to find decent staff – which is a shame really as it can be great fun.
Words: Adrian Davis
Pictures: Adrian Davis
Anthony Malone – Walsh’s Stoneybatter Facebook Page