Fitzgerald’s Opens, Owner Seeks Separate Identity From Kildare’s
CHAPEL HILL – Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub is the newest restaurant to open on Franklin Street—the grand opening was Friday night.
“We want to attract the people that live here 365 days a year because we want to build on that local community. We want to be here in 20-30 years. That was our goal in opening up for the summertime,” said owner and operator James Jackson.
Jackson says he wants the community to know the pub is not just for college kids.
Fitzgerald’s is an independent company based out of Charlotte—where their sister restaurant is located. Jackson and friend Kevin Marcuse own the company together with other partners.
Their beer and liquor reps told them about the Chapel Hill location—the partners were looking to expand and acted quickly when the property opened up. With in a couple of weeks, Jackson says they made it official.
Their predecessor in the space, Kildare’s Irish Pub, saw a tumultuous ending to its run at the 206 West Franklin St. location.
After a change in managing partners and rent payment problems, Kildare’s closed unexpectedly just before St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’ve been fighting that image already so that’s made it tough,” Jackson said. “We know it was an Irish pub, we know Kildare’s was a big chain. We’re different in that we are an Irish-American sports pub.”
Jackson says the newly-added six TVs, which together make a bigger screen, cater towards the sports fan. They will also host private events like rehearsal dinners, holiday parties, and business dinners.
Its new neighbor is 140 West, the mixed-use building which opened in April— the project added 140 condominiums and 26,000 sq. ft. of retail space. It also added 337 parking spaces – 161 of which are public spaces controlled by the town.
“The area is very attractive. It’s right in the middle of everything,” Jackson said. “Anybody who knows anything about Chapel Hill knows it’s the place to be. We love all the restaurants and bars, and how close it all is. Customers can bounce around and walk back and forth.”
Jackson says they didn’t make any structural changes to the space but did re-do the floors, re-painted, added a new DJ booth with a new audio and visual system, and brought in new furniture.
Business partners hope to expand the pub to Durham, Raleigh and Wilmington in the future.