Celtic eatery nears debut

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

Families of both Scottish and Irish descent have teamed up to open a Celtic-themed pub in the heart of Jamestown, which local business leaders are hoping will benefit the area's business community.

Members of the Kelley, Leedom and McEwen families are hard at work remodeling what was formerly Azzo's Restaurant at 18228 Main St.

Hooligan's Pub and Eats will serve up beer, traditional Celtic dishes and live music in what's intended to "breathe some life into the community," said Jennifer McEwen, who will handle the business's day-to-day operations.

"I'm very confident," McEwen said. "I think what we're doing here is pretty unique."

The former restaurant owned by Ron "Azzo" Azzopardi shut down in

late August, after struggling with declining demand for upper-scale

cuisine in a poor economy.

McEwen, a lifelong Jamestown resident, saw it as an opportunity to

get her family and friends together and open their own small business,

which is something none of them have done before.

"I more or less came to the conclusion that this was something we had to do," she said.

The pub will be a place where people can go for a drink and to

enjoy traditional Scottish and Irish dishes like Guinness stew and

shepherd's pie, as well as burgers and other American favorites like

corned beef and cabbage.

Her plan is to also have live music every Saturday night and, eventually, karaoke on Fridays.

McEwen said her confidence that the bar will succeed in the tough economic climate comes from "sheer bravery and ambition."

There's still a good amount of work to be done, but McEwen said she hopes to be up and running within several weeks.

Hooligan's has the blessings of Azzopardi, who thinks the pub will

attract a younger crowd that will benefit the surrounding businesses.

"I think Jamestown could use a boost," he said.

Azzopardi bought the spot five years ago, but said the effects of the last economic recession took its toll on his business.

"It's a great room. I couldn't have asked for a better location,"

he said. "It's just a difficult time for fine dining, and Tuolumne

County is a pretty hard hit area."

Azzopardi said he's pleased to see another bar and restaurant

opening up in the Main Street location, which has traditionally housed

those types of businesses in the 30 years he has lived in the county.

"It's keeping with the tradition of Jamestown being a real good food town," he said.

Charles Marangio, president of the Promotion Club of Jamestown,

said it's good for the community when there's more active businesses

and less empty buildings.

"Empty spaces don't make the town look inviting," he said. "The

more businesses you have, the more prosperous and fun the town seems."

He said a Celtic-themed pub and restaurant will also add variety to Jamestown's already diverse restaurant scene.

"Eateries and restaurants are always bringing more people." he

said. "This way you know when you get to town that you'll have plenty

of places to eat, or drink, and various things to buy."

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4530.

The Union Democrat
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