The Smiling Irish
● By Claudia Mosby
Shameless O’Leery’s Irish Pub
Although St. Patrick’s Day comes but once a year, its spirit lives on in St. Shameless Day, celebrated on the 17th of each of the remaining 11 months at Shameless O’Leery’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Redding. “Once a year is just not enough for us,” says owner Kenny Breedlove.
For him and business partner Chris Hastings, Irish is more than a heritage; it is a way of life. “It’s a fun and relaxed approach, a ‘let’s go out and have fun together’ attitude,” explains Breedlove. “Everyone can be Irish for the day.”
After working in wine and spirits distribution, opening first the Market Street Steakhouse and later Billy Bombay’s and the Clover Club (now Capone’s), Breedlove was ready for a new challenge (“I’m more into the restaurant-bars than the bar-bars and I wanted to consolidate,” he says). He and Hastings opened the pub in July 2011.
Nick Conley, executive chef, creates the signature dishes, including bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and Irish nachos, which use thin-cut, fried potatoes (instead of tortilla chips) covered with corned beef or bacon.
“Our food is fun and we try to do a little spin on traditional things,” says Conley. “We put a lot of love into our food and I think it shows on the plate.”
The pub’s mascot, Captain Shameless O’Leery, “is an old school sea captain who has traveled the globe, sailed every ocean and climbed every mountain,” says Breedlove. “He is a cross between Sean Connery and the most interesting man in the world (for those who do not think Connery fits the bill). There is nothing he has not done!”
Whiskey barrels hung from the ceiling, a choice of 100 different whiskeys and even a club that bestows membership once a customer has tried each one, add to the pub’s unique charm. “Members get their name on a plaque in the bar,” says Breedlove. “And after the half-way point, we give them a Shameless O’ Leery’s sweatshirt and hat.”
The pub is relaxed, a place where customers can enjoy a drink with friends. “We have built such a family and community atmosphere that I feel like our customers help us police,” he says. “We do not offer two-for-one drinks or deep discounts. Our main concern is making sure we are not over-serving on any given day.”
This concern for patrons extends to the wider community. On Wednesdays the pub allows organizations and charities to do a “restaurant take-over.”
“A group will create and distribute a flyer promoting its fundraiser and anyone who brings one in will get 25% of their purchase donated to the cause,” says Breedlove.
The restaurant also facilitates a raffle with donated items from local businesses, of which the organization-of-the-day takes 100 percent of the proceeds. Pets Without Partners, Shasta High School athletics and even an employee who lost the family home in a fire have been beneficiaries.
“I think a lot of people thought we were just a bar,” says Breedlove, “but we are in fact a full service family-oriented restaurant.”
And what would a true Irish pub be without its soccer? Breedlove, who is head soccer coach at Shasta High, says both he and patrons look forward to this summer’s World Cup series, adding, “It only comes around every four years, so for us it’s on the scale of the Olympics.”
While he entertains thoughts of eventually opening a second pub along the Northern California stretch running from Roseville to Southern Oregon, for now Breedlove is focused on more immediate concerns: The St. Paddy’s Day festivities.
“It’s kind of taken on a life of its own the past couple of years,” he says. “We have been full by 10am.”
You have been advised: Get there early.
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 11 am – 12:30 am; Sunday 9 am – 11 pm
www.shamelessoleerys.com • (530) 246-4765
1701 California Street, Suite B