J.J. Mahoney’s Irish Pub still going strong

Managing partner Bryan Streit (left) and co-owner Paul Armour (right) invite Redmond neighbors to their family-friendly restaurant and Irish pub

J.J. Mahoney’s Irish Pub opened its doors in Redmond’s Bella Botega shopping center on Aug. 31, 2004. More than five years later, it’s going strong as a “full-service, family restaurant with an Irish pub theme,” declared co-owner Paul Armour, who runs the convivial gathering place with managing partner Bryan Streit.

Yes, children are welcome at “J.J.’s,” as Armour’s own kids and their pals call the pub. Not bellying up to the bar itself, but certainly in the dining room that’s equipped with five high-definition, plasma TVs and chess/checker boards.

That surprises some newcomers, yet “the whole idea of ‘pub’ comes from ‘the public house,’ which 100 or 200 years ago, was the town’s one public place to discuss the crops, the kids, the wives, the issues of the day,” Armour noted.

J.J. Mahoney’s is named for Armour’s grandfather, John James Mahoney, who left Cork County Ireland for “the New World” of America in 1893. He proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps, fought in the Spanish American War and World War I and became a U.S. citizen in 1910. Before his passing in 1951, he and his wife raised six children, including Armour’s mom.

Thus, it was important to make the namesake pub both genuinely Irish and family-oriented, said Armour.

“We’re really no different than Coho Cafe or Red Robin, in the sense that they’re restaurants that also serve beer. It’s just hard for some people to get past the word ‘pub,'” he added.

So what sets J.J. Mahoney’s apart from its nearby competitors?

A hearty Irish breakfast, with ingredients imported from the Emerald Isle, is served all day on weekends. It’s a meat lover’s feast, featuring bangers (Irish sausages) rashers (Irish bacon) and eggs. Traditional Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Harp Beer Battered Fish and Chips and Guinness Stout French Onion Soup are on the pub’s menu, too.

But paying homage to Redmond’s melting pot — residents and workers who hail from near and far — you’ll also find vegetarian fare, All-American burgers and sandwiches, kid-pleasing corn dogs and mac and cheese and Mexican specialties, crafted by the Irish pub’s Spanish-speaking kitchen staff.

Although it’s first and foremost a restaurant, Streit and Armour have also positioned J.J. Mahoney’s as a cozy place to cheer for the “hometown heroes,” whether home means Seattle, Scotland or Australia.

“Seahawks games are always popular — and also the Sounders,” said Streit. “Once the Sonics left, a lot of people moved to soccer mode. We show international matches, the World Cup, college football. People have come in and asked for rugby, cricket. It’s a lot of people from all over the world. They seek us out to feel at home.”

Armour nodded, “The Celtic lettering and authentic sign draw them in. In Europe or elsewhere (this signage) is as familiar as a Subway in America. When they see the sign, they know what to expect.”

New this fall, J.J. Mahoney’s is offering 50-cent wings during Seahawks games “and we’ll open early on Sundays, at 10 a.m., for East Coast games,” said Streit.

Because there’s still some confusion about the word “pub,” he and Armour have increased community outreach to local schools and youth sports organizations, donating gift cards for fundraisers and advertising in the Redmond High School game day programs.

Still skeptical? Come in on a Sunday afternoon, Armour coaxed. Bring a book to read with your glass of wine or a companion to play a game of chess. “It’s what you’ll see in a real Irish pub,” he promised.

J.J. Mahoney’s is located at 8932 161st Ave. NE. For more information, call (425) 558-1866 or visit www.jjmahoneys.com.

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