Irish Eyes Smile at Parsippany's Blackthorn Pub
From live music to 800 pounds of St. Patrick's Day corned beef, local Irish pub offers much to keep patrons and management happy.
Since September 2010, Parsippany has enjoyed the classic Irish food and atmosphere at the Blackthorn Irish Restaurant and Pub on Route 46. And in the nearly three years since they opened the venue, a companion to the first Blackthorn in Kenilworth, the Gillespie family has enjoyed steady traffic from loyal local fans.
That's amazing news, considering the economic downturn of the last few years that has made life difficult for many businesses in the area.
The Blackthorn certainly has not been immune to the financial turmoil, but the Irish tradition of buckling down, tightening the belt and working hard in the face of adversity has paid dividends for the restaurant. Versatility is key—not only does the pub provide a place to enjoy Celtic victuals like corned beef and cabbage and an extensive bar featuring a host of beers including the stalwart of Irish quaffs, Guinness stout, it also is the place to go in Parsippany for live band performances on the weekends.
Is it any wonder Irish eyes keep smiling at the Blackthorn, even after St. Paddy's Day?
For this week's spotlight, General Manager Brian Hertenstein talked with Patch about the challenges the business faces and all about last weekend's St. Patrick's celebration.
1. How's business going?
It's been going great thankfully. Since the end of summer business has really picked up across the board. Lunches, Dinner, Happy Hour and our late night crowd have all grown. The month of March is especially good for us, with the Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade and then obviously Patty's Day itself.
2. What challenges has the economy meant for your two locations? How are you surviving and thriving?
With people everywhere experiencing such hardships, our guests, now more than ever want to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck when they choose to go out. In a restaurant such as ours, that was the most difficult hurdle to overcome. We were confident that from day one we had the best product, but how do we continue to offer the highest possible quality, while keeping costs down and portions large enough to satisfy what our guests have come to expect? In Parsippany, this problem was compounded by the fact that all of our closest competitors are large corporate chain restaurants with enormous buying power and multi-million dollar advertising budgets. So we went to work with all of our vendors shopping one against the other on both quality and pricing. Once we had the right ingredients at the right price, we hired and trained a quality staff of professionals and we were able to develop a menu that allowed us to continue to offer the quality of food we wanted and at the same time price it much more competitively. Then over time we were able to develop and maintain an extraordinary customer base, who continue to come back day after day and week after week. It’s those wonderful people, our guests who’ve really allowed us to thrive in this economy.
3. How did St. Patrick's Day go at the Parsippany Blackthorn? What's the favorite Irish dish on your menu?
St. Patrick's Day was a huge success again this year! The celebration actually began the week before with the Morris County Parade, which we helped sponsor and marched in again this year. After the parade we have a family friendly party back at the restaurant with a face painter, a table side magician, live Irish music and all children under the age of 12 ate for free with their parents! St. Patrick's Day itself fell on a Sunday this year so we were able to stretch the party out over the entire weekend. We had our "All Irish Happy Hour" on Friday with live music, a complimentary buffet, drink specials and tons of giveaways. Then on Saturday most of our late-night partygoers came out to catch one of our most popular bands, Sick Star Nation. Sunday, though, was still the biggest day of the weekend. We ran a St. Patrick's Day menu featuring all of the classic Irish fare our guests have come to expect, as well as live Irish music by the Joe Moran Band and 3 Shades of Green, performances by two different schools of Irish dance, several bagpipers, appearances by our very own mascot "Lucky the Leprechaun" and, of course, plenty of Guinness. The crowd favorite for St. Paddy's Day is and probably always will be corned beef and cabbage. Over the course of the three-day weekend we went through close to 800 pounds of beef brisket to make it all!!
4. What fun can we expect there in the spring and summer?
As we come out of the winter, myself and the chef begin working on our new menu. We tend to lighten up the menu a bit, focusing less on comfort foods and more on lighter, seasonal items. We'll also be opening our patio soon; we're still the only restaurant on Route 46 in Parsippany to offer outdoor dining. This summer we'll be celebrating our third anniversary. The party is still in the planning stages, so I don't want to say too mush about it but it'll definitely be a good one!
5. Why Parsippany?
Parsippany has such a wide variety of people, it's a little bit of everything. There's a good amount of corporate business in the area, which drives a great lunch and happy hour crowd. Then there's just as much of a residential area which drives our dinner crowd and late-night business. It's like the perfect storm for a restaurant.