NORFOLK, Va. - "Where every day is St. Patrick's Day."
That may be the slogan at Grace O'Malley's Irish Pub & Restaurant, but the actual Irish holiday has always been one to remember for owner Christy Marron.
March 17, 2020 was no different, when, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, an order from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's office came down prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people.
"About 7 o'clock that evening on St. Patrick's Day we had about 90 people in here and we had to shut down," recalled Marron. "We told [customers] that certainly we'll see you in a year for a full St. Patrick's Day. We're not a full St. Patrick's Day yet but certainly we're going to celebrate as fully as we can."
At Grace O'Malley's, the plan for St. Patrick's Day 2021 is to start the Guinness and Smithwick's flowing at 11 a.m. Music from local acts like Don Bunch and Glasgow Kiss will begin in the afternoon and run until 11:30 p.m.
Current COVID-19 restrictions require the pub to close at midnight and, during the day, keep people seated at socially-distanced tables, but Marron is expecting a busy day.
"We're working around [the restrictions] and we know it'll be lifted soon enough," she told News 3.
Marron says there will likely be a wait as she works to accommodate everyone wanting to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. For those who don't want to wait or don't feel comfortable, the entire menu, including dishes like corned beef and cabbage and shepherd's pie, along with all Irish drafts and craft beers are available for to-go orders.
It's all about creating an authentic Irish pub experience at Grace O'Malley's, Marron says.
Yes, the food and music, but also the Gaelic football playing on the televisions inside and even the tables customers are sitting at.
"Everything you see here other than the light fixtures are from Ireland. The flooring, the ceiling, every stick of furniture, everything. We had two Irish laborers come over and install it all so Guinness has given us their seal of approval that this is an authentic Irish pub," said Marron.
The pub opened in 2016 with the name Grace O'Malley's, which comes from a notorious 14th century pirate queen out of County Mayo, Ireland, where Marron's mother-in-law grew up.
Irish tradition that goes back hundreds of years...found right in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia.