The Irish Pub company in 1990. They ship everything you need to make the quintessential pub, from the floorboards to the bric-a-brac, around the world.
If you've ever been to an Irish pub in Dubai, Chicago, Moscow, Lagos, or Kurdistan, and thought to yourself "Wow, this feels just like a pub in Ireland!" there's a high probability that a man named Mel McNally had something to do with it.
McNally is the founder of the Irish Pub Company, which began shipping everything you need to create an authentic Irish pub anywhere in the world in 1990. Since then, the company has been responsible for building over 2,000 Irish pubs across 53 countries, constructed to the highest standards with materials made in Ireland.
Back in 2017, he shared his fascinating story with the NPR podcast Planet Money, which they just revisited with a short video.
It all started in the late 1970s when he was an architecture student in Dublin. For an assignment on a piece of local architecture, McNally and some classmates decided to analyze the pub.
While this initially sounded like an excuse to have a few pints while doing homework, they soon honed in on the three key rules that all Irish pubs follow:
1. You can see the bar as soon as you walk in and it remains within eyesight from anywhere in the pub.
2. Every Irish pub belongs to one or a combination of six distinctive pub styles: modern/gastro, brewery, shop (the sort of pub/grocer you'd find in rural Ireland), country, Celtic, and Victorian.
3. They balance private spaces (booths, snugs) with spaces where patrons can mingle together.
Expanding upon these secrets to success, the Irish Pub Company was founded in 1990. It was a winning concept: everything you need to build a real-deal Irish pub packed into 40-foot shipping containers. Plus some consultation help from McNally and his team about how to achieve that authentic Irish pub warmth and hospitality. An important part of the business model was McNally's dedication to using only authentic materials made in Ireland.
Over 2,000 pubs and 53 countries later they've partnered brands like Guinness and have also worked on some important projects close to home, like the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin.
Curious if you've ever been to one of their pubs? Check out the extensive portfolio here.
* Originally published in August 2019.