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Anyone who has driven by Lafayette Village recently has probably noticed something different about the nearby building that was once home to Duffy’s Restaurant and Tavern.
The facade of 8021 Falls of Neuse Road has been emblazoned with bright red paint and accented with gold-painted statues. The Hibernian, a popular Irish-themed pub that already has locations in Cary and Glenwood South, plans to open for business there by early February.
Just over a month ago, the interior of the building was stripped and looked like it could turn into just about anything. On Tuesday, the smell of wood stain lingered in the restaurant, which is now equal parts construction zone and pub.
Crews were buzzing around the building, staining, hammering and decorating. The three wooden bars, including one that runs up against an outdoor patio, had been stained and finished. Hibernian regulars will recognize the feel of the pub’s interior, and much of the fare will be the same. The newest location will offer a wider selection of steaks and wine.
Opening a restaurant is a time-intensive process – contractors need to get everything built on time, city regulators need to give their stamp of approval, and customers need to be ready to eat and drink when the doors open – but in the real world, nothing happens at the right place at the right time.
Mark Twain offered that timeless observation, and during the past month, Hibernian owner and longtime Raleigh restaurateur Niall Hanley has seen the words come to life.
“Everything is coming in at the same time, but what can you do?” Hanley said.
Dos Taquitos Xoco, a venture of Hanley and Carlos Salamanca, will open in Glenwood South around the same time as the new Hibernian.
Hanley threw out his back recently.
And worst of all, the day after Christmas, the downtown location of The Hibernian fell victim to a grease fire that spread rapidly through the wooden ceiling. The pub was founded in 2000, the first restaurant Hanley opened when he relocated to the Triangle from Boston.
Thick smoke billowed over the Glenwood South district that Hanley’s bar helped rejuvenate. When the flames subsided after hours of work by firefighters, the damage was severe enough to keep the business closed for several months. The roof collapsed almost completely.
Pockets of the interior were spared, but the city has yet to decide whether the exterior walls that are still standing are structurally intact enough to avoid a complete demolition.
Some employees have been out of work for a few weeks, though Hanley said most of the staff will head north until the original location is rebuilt.
“This is the real luck of the Irish,” said Hanley, making light of his heritage. “I knew it was going to be a busy month, but I didn’t realize exactly how busy.”
Hanley said that amid the struggles, the response from the community has been overwhelming. He said longtime Hibernian patrons, people who met their future spouses at the bar, and all kinds of other people have offered words of support.
Gerry McDermott, a longtime associate of Hanley who was general manager of the original Hibernian, agreed that the groundswell of support has been touching.
“We’ve been surprised by the reaction we’ve gotten from customers, from people who enjoyed The Hibernian,” McDermott said. “Now we want to get everybody back to work.”