St. Paul Hot Spot Readies For Convention

Kieran Folliard, owner of The Liffey, an Irish bar in St. Paul, Minn., is preparing for the onslaught of visitors to the city. His bar is located across the street from the convention center where Republican delegates will congregate this week.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

There may be a lot of serious business going on at this week's Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. But when the gavel comes down each night, it's time to party. St. Paul nightspots are gearing up for a flood of new business. Kieran Folliard owns three Irish pubs in the Twin Cities, including The Liffey. It's right across the street from the convention site, the Xcel Energy Center. Mr. Folliard is on the phone from his office. Welcome to the program.

Mr. KIERAN FOLLIARD (Proprietor, The Liffey): Thank you very much. Normally I would say that we are a stone's throw from the Xcel Center, but that probably wouldn't be the appropriate thing to be saying this week.

HANSEN: No, I don't think so. I don't think so. But what do you expect?

Mr. FOLLIARD: Well, there's just terrific excitement. There's a lot of RNC, obviously, people that are around, in and out of the pub, and a lot of talk. So, yeah, the excitement level is quite high at the moment.

HANSEN: Well, how do you prepare for something like this?

Mr. FOLLIARD: We prepare for it, really, by looking at first and foremost our capacity. If for argument's sake the place is absolutely packed, then what do we have to do to our regular menu, food menu and drinks menu, to make sure that we can adequately serve all of those people but still give them a very good flavor of what we do on a normal basis?

HANSEN: Are you rolling out any specials in honor of the Republican conventioneers?

Mr. FOLLIARD: Oh, well, you know, we'll probably have a few pork barrel dinners and - you get the drift...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FOLLIARD: And so on from there.

HANSEN: In this pub, The Liffey, though - I mean, on event days - say concerts or sporting events - do you get a lot of foot traffic? And is this really any different?

Mr. FOLLIARD: Normally for a wild game or for a Bruce Springsteen concert that we had recently, you're going to have 20,000 people across the street. But it's the sustained pace. It's, you know, the morning, afternoon, evening, late night. We were the first bar, actually, to sign up for the 2 until 4 a.m. extended license.

HANSEN: Now explain that, because you had to pay, what, 2,500 dollars?

Mr. FOLLIARD: Twenty-five-hundred dollars. The normal hours in the Twin Cities are 2 a.m.

HANSEN: Ah! But, I mean, 2,500 dollars to stay open just two hours.

Mr. FOLLIARD: Two hours each night for four nights, yes. That's 300 bucks an hour, which means that we've got to basically sell a drink every minute. And I mean, for crying out loud, we're Irish anyway. We'd like to be open 24 hours a day. They won't let us. But, you know, we're working on it.

HANSEN: Kieran Folliard owns The Liffey Irish pub in St. Paul, Minnesota. Thank you so much, and best of luck to you this week.

Mr. FOLLIARD: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

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