There are so many restaurants and organizations that host creative, new events throughout the lower mainland to showcase local cuisines, craft breweries, international food festivals, food trends, food trucks, etc. Our group chose Kelly O‘Bryan’s to review the restaurants’ operations in detail to showcase the Irish cuisine and service offered in New Westminster. Kelly O‘Bryan’s is one of the famous foodservice operators in downtown New Westminster that celebrates itself as a traditional Irish American restaurant and pub. As soon as we entered the restaurant, we could experience the bustling atmosphere as it was packed with people all over.
Ambience, atmosphere, vibe
When visiting Kelly O’Bryan’s for the first time, The Irish architecture is noticeable from outside as it stands out with its traditional physical structure and décor. One could feel the Irish spirit in the air as the whole establishment is designed and operated uniquely with an Irish inspired concept. Right away I noticed a different, friendly atmosphere as smiling hostesses and servers greeted us in. There was only a 15 minutes wait to get a table for four but it was surprisingly very busy and well managed. The wooden carvings, brick walls, Irish photographs, traditional lighting, and Irish servers contributed to an overall Irish experience. It had this theme throughout the facility and was separated into two segments, the bar upstairs and the restaurant available for minor downstairs. The servers all had kilts and a black top to symbolize this with black shoes and an authentic-looking belt. Our favorite part was the music, it consisted of Irish Folk music and was uplifting and enjoyable to listen to.
When receiving our shots, (which came in platters of 6) it was served to us on a bright green wooden four-leaf clover which seemed to be quite popular as most of the tables had one. This must have been a signature drink option as it was the only food and beverage item that had been executed with Irish qualities.
The overall outtake of this restaurant was very clean and structured well. As soon as we were done with our plates, the server removed them right away leaving more room on the table. This is important because when items aren’t removed it can become cluttered, overcrowded and increase chances for spillage. Therefore, their planning and management were on par with the needs of a busy restaurant. We enjoyed Kelly O’Bryan’s just by being in the environment and we think others would too.
Photo credits: Shannon Little (2015)
Even though it was a busy Saturday night in the pub, the hostess and employees were still able to deliver high-quality service to everyone. The overall service was very casual and friendly to the people who visited the establishment. Both the hostess and our appointed server gave us a very friendly welcome and the server was attentive and helpful from the start. When we mentioned that one of our friends will be late and we would like to wait for her to join us before ordering anything, the server told us it is definitely okay to do so, and we can take as much time as we need. When we decided to order, the server gave us some recommendations on what to order (such as the in-house specials) and briefly explained about the recommended drinks/dishes.
After we ordered the food and drinks, it only took around 3-4 minutes for the drinks to come and around 10-20 minutes for all the dishes to get to our table. They also gave us a notice about which dish would take more time to cook as it was a busy Saturday night. During the mealtime, the server occasionally visited us to ask if everything was okay and if we need anything else. The payment options were pretty convenient, and large groups could pay their bills separately. The Irish service was complemented by Halloween vibes as the establishment’s décor was enhanced with spooky features.
Food and Beverage trends
There is a lot to be pointed out about food and beverage trends on Kelly O’Bryan’s menu. One of the items that called our attention was the recommended appetizer “Tuna Tacos”. Kelly is an Irish Pub/Restaurant, we were not expecting to have international foods on the menu and presumed seeing more Irish dishes. Nevertheless, this looks like an attempt to expand the menu dishes and increase sales by introducing more cultural sustenance. Foodies have a broader palate nowadays, and Tacos have been an ongoing food trend (Peter, G.). Another trend featured in the menu was the seasonal crafted beer section. They had several crafts to choose from such as; Granville Island, Vancouver Island Brewing Seasonal, Whistler Brewing Seasonal and Fat Tug IPA. You could also order a beer sample/float with four options from the menu.
However, some big trends such as vegetarian/vegan or gluten-free options were missing. Nowadays, it’s common to see V/VG/GF symbols, helping the customer to find their dietary nutritional options easily. Unfortunately, there was no such thing on Kelly’s menu. In fact, it was actually quite hard to identify those items. The only plant-based option for the main dish was a Beyond Meat burger with pacho style fries. According to Erik Rolfsen (2019), Beyond Meat is a famous plant-based product made with a yellow pea protein base, canola and coconut oils. As plant-based options are becoming more trendy, and consumers are more open to adopting vegetarian/vegan meals, it is common to see different restaurants with this same offer. No gluten-free item was found.
The restaurant is making efforts to ban single-use plastic and go green. They have placed signs indicating that they were going “strawless”, and if a customer still requires it, they have biodegradable & compostable straws to offer. In addition, the small custard cups (usually for sauces) are also sustainable/reusable. On the other hand, in the washroom the drying hand section was using paper towels, which is not as environmentally friendly as a blower. The napkins used were also non-recyclable ones. Therefore, Kelly O’Brian’s did not adequately fulfil their role as an environmentally friendly restaurant, and more effort could be used as sustainability is becoming an important issue in our modern society.
Food and beverage
Food and beverages are the most important parameters in running a foodservice operation and it seems that Kelly places value in providing premium quality fob products as we liked all the dishes and drinks that were served to us. The menu was very elaborate, and it helped us pick out the dishes and drinks that would suit our needs. The dishes that were ordered –
- Chicken lips
- Fish tacos
- Beyond burger with pachos
- Deep-fried dill pickles
- Celtics chicken
- Beer sample
All of the dishes were served hot in an appropriate, fulfilling portions in a timely manner. This enhanced our overall experience as the food exceeded expectations. We surveyed the menu and found out that not all menu items were authentically Irish, they had American dishes and fusion dishes throughout the menu. This might be due to the fact that a diverse menu can offer broader satisfaction for different target markets.
The menu didn’t include many vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options for the customers which made one of our team members to eat a Beyond meat burger instead of experiencing something Irish in flavor. Vegetarianism is becoming a popular trend nowadays (Rosie L., 2019), therefore, Kelly could think about including a modern choice of Irish cuisine. As we mentioned above, our server was super friendly and made our experience a wholesome one. Our favorite dishes were chicken lips and fish tacos which were also suggested by our server. The tuna tacos were very different as they were tacos but wrapped in lettuce, filled with wasabi and tuna. All of us were fully satisfied with the drinks too as the beer sample and whiskey were served fast and were pretty good. The only thing that we weren’t happy about was the prices as the bill was huge for a few dishes. One could sure to keep a lookout for the happy hour offers and weekly food offers for savings as they provide good quality food and beverage items at convenient prices.
We had a great experience at Kelly O’Bryan’s. The restaurant’s decor and the server’s apparels really set the right tone for an Irish experience. Even though there were some issues regarding food trends, pricing, and the menu, in the end, we can say that Kelly’s service qualities made our experience. We felt like the good old Irish days and we would definitely refer it to anyone who wants to enjoys good food and a good time.
Peter, G. Restaurants shell out for Taco trend. US Foods. Retrieved from: https://www.usfoods.com/great-food/food-trends/restaurants-shell-out-for-taco-trend.html
Rolfsen, E. (2019, October 30). Beyond Meat elevates veggie burgers’ taste, but what about nutrition?. UBC News. Retrieved from: https://news.ubc.ca/2019/09/13/beyond-meat-elevates-veggie-burgers-taste-but-what-about-nutrition/
Rossie, L. (2019). Vegetarian month: 2019: How are restaurants catering to vegans and vegetarians?. Verdict Foodservice. Retrieved from: https://www.verdictfoodservice.com/features/vegetarian-vegan-trends-2019/
Shannon, L. (2015). Carlos O’Bryan’s/Kelly O’Bryan’s~” Powered by Pachos, Fueled by fun”. Metro Living Zine. Retrieved from: http://www.metrolivingzine.com/carlos-obryanskelly-obryans-powered-by-pachos-fueled-by-fun/