When O’Hare’s Gastropub & Liquor Store announced a makeover last year, those on both sides of the counter were nervous. Regulars who loved O’Hare’s comfy feel and no-nonsense menus were afraid their cherished hangout would be lost. And second-generation owners Grant and Erinn Bryan were anxious they might somehow misplace the warmly inviting ambiance Erinn’s father Jack had carefully fostered here since 1987.
“It was a delicate balance. We wanted to make some changes but we still wanted it to feel like O’Hare’s,” recalls Erinn. “This is an extension of people’s living rooms after all, and we always want it to feel like a great neighbourhood pub for everyone.”
Grant and Erinn have made their mark on O'Hare's. | Photo: O’Hare’s Gastropub & Liquor Store
But the perfectly-pitched alterations—including an enhanced patio, a country manor look for the cozy side room, and a reinvented food menu combining pub classics with contemporary flourishes—were fully embraced by all, including newcomers who dropped by to see the sparkling spruce-up for themselves.
And what about that all-important ambiance? Jack, who handed the business reins to daughter Erinn and son-in-law Grant several years ago, still drops in for a beer every few days, giving his ongoing stamp of approval to the 2.0 version of the pub that was his baby for many years.
We call ourselves a gastropub to show that our food is different from standard pub dining. Everything is made fresh and from scratch—we also use high-quality ingredients and source locally whenever we can.
The pies are almost legendary. | Photo: O’Hare’s Gastropub & Liquor Store
Beyond the Irish pub
“We’re a pub with a traditional feel that just happens to be run by an Irish family,” says Grant, adding that they don't have shamrock and shillelagh knickknacks on the walls like a kitschy, themed pub would. Instead, there are tasteful reminders of the old country, from a beamed ceiling etched with Irish place names to a trio of vintage Guinness posters. There’s also a famous Gaelic slogan above the entrance that translates as “a hundred thousand welcomes.”
The sign above the entrance. | Photo: John Lee
That slogan remains the bedrock of the couple’s approach to running O’Hare’s. Meeting in Edinburgh in the 1990s, they later moved to Canada and eventually took over the running of the business from Jack as he approached retirement. Fast-forward to now and they’ve worked tirelessly on every aspect of the operation, forging a working partnership that efficiently delineates their roles.
Elevated comfort dining
Among Erinn’s key responsibilities is menu development. From day one, O’Hare’s was known for its hearty, good-value food. And while that certainly still applies, she has carefully introduced new menu items while also enhancing existing favourites. “We call ourselves a gastropub to show that our food is different from standard pub dining. Everything is made fresh and from scratch—we also use high-quality ingredients and source locally whenever we can.”
Those elevated classics include fish and chips made with beer-battered haddock and served with hand-cut fries, plus a highly popular O’Hare burger made with bacon, cheddar, and hand-formed patties of quality BC beef. Then there are the famous pies, an O’Hare’s staple since the early days. Made from scratch every day in three varieties, their steak and Guinness option is an enduring top-seller.
Discover comfort dining at its best. | Photo: O’Hare’s Gastropub & Liquor Store
The surprisingly diverse menu also includes an ahi tuna club, crumbled goat cheese salad, and a weekend brunch Irish scramble of free-range eggs and ‘bangers’—a.k.a. sausages. Alongside the specials (we spotted a poke bowl and cider-braised beef on our visit), there are also ‘weekly features’ such as Wednesday night chicken wings and Friday steak and prawns. “You can eat at home if you want to, so we need to give people some really good reasons to come here,” says Erinn.
The drinks are another good reason to visit. “We were the first pub in Richmond to really get into craft beer,” says Grant. “But we’re definitely enthusiasts rather than snobs.” That means perfectly poured pints of Irish favourites Guinness and Smithwick’s as well as 15 or so on-tap craft beers, mostly from BC producers. A handy chalkboard notes the available drafts, which on our visit included brews from Richmond’s Britannia Brewing and Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks.
There's an excellent beer selection at O'Hare's. | Photo: John Lee
Craft cider is also available as well as creative cocktails and wines from BC and beyond. And when it comes to whisky, celebrated Irish varieties here include Bushmills as well as Paddy—which is “a great entry-level Irish whisky,” says Grant, adding that their adjacent private liquor store is a good spot to pick-up takeout for home if you find a new beverage favourite.
Enjoy some local brews at O'Hare's. | Photo: John Lee
Beyond the drink and dine menus, though, O’Hare’s has also worked hard to foster an inviting, Cheers-style tone where staff—some of whom have been there for 30 years—take the time to genuinely connect with patrons. “A proper neighbourhood pub should always make everyone feel warm and welcome,” says Erinn, adding that they are a family-friendly establishment where children are welcome in the bar area (until 10:00pm, as per liquor licensing rules).
And as if the pub wasn’t enough to keep them both busy, the Grant and Erinn also launched three libation-related annual festivals in Richmond a few years back. The Steveston Wine Fest, Steveston Beer Fest, and Steveston Cider & Sours Fest each operate over successive summer months (June, July, August), with tickets often selling out early.
St. Patrick’s Day
But you don’t have to wait until summer to find some great craic here. St. Patrick’s Day has always been a cause for celebration at O’Hare’s Gastropub & Liquor Store and this year’s March 17 shenanigans are no exception. The green beer will be flowing and special dishes—including Irish stew and Irish pie—will also be available, alongside a full day of toe-tapping music and live dance performances. “Our St. Patrick’s Day has a fantastic atmosphere and we make sure everyone always has a great time,” says Grant.
O'Hare's is an inviting spot to visit in Richmond. | Photo: John Lee