[flag5]With its rich history, great food and famous beer, Ireland is adored by nearly all who visit. As one of many students who spent six weeks in Ireland as part of MSU’s study abroad program, English and neuroscience senior Nathan Clay often thinks back to his 2004 summer in Ireland as some of his fondest memories. But with Ireland over 3,000 miles away, it can be difficult to find authentic Irish goods in the U.S.
But with the construction of an Irish pub in the works on Abbott Road, students will soon be able to experience Irish culture outside of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans in East Lansing.[stout]
“I was really excited when I saw that there was going to be an Irish pub in East Lansing,” Clay said. “Even though there are no substitutes for actually being in a pub in Ireland, Irish pubs around the world provide a space where people can get lost in conversation, music and good beer in the spirit of the Irish. I think it would be a good asset to MSU because it would diversify the niches of bar types around town.”
Tentatively opening in March (and hopefully in time for the green holiday), Dublin Square is currently being constructed in the building previously home to the Evergreen Grill. According to co-owner Noel Laporte, who is opening the restaurant along with business partner Paul Vlahakis, the restaurant will offer a wide variety of Irish dishes. This will include dishes like shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, tenderloins and lamb chops along with freshly made salads, soup and breads each day. Because it’s a pub as well as a restaurant, Dublin Square’s will offer 20 premium draft beers, including many traditional Irish drinks, like the much-loved Guinness stout.
Senior Karen O’Conner already enjoys the bar scene in East Lansing and feels that an Irish bar will add to it nicely. “I think an Irish Pub is a good idea,” O’Conner said. “Especially if they try to make it authentic with Irish beer and whiskey and Irish pub food. I like the casual bars here, like The Peanut Barrel and Buffalo Wild Wings because I can hang out with my friends without getting really dressed up. ”
Besides being something new for the East Lansing bar scene, a recent addition to CATA bus services could bring in customers from Lansing as well. With the creation of CATA’s new “Entertainment Express” trolley that carries people between Lansing and East Lansing, Dublin Square could be a venue for Lansing residents as well. According to CATA’s marketing assistant Pam Latka, the service will include a stop on Grand River and Abbott, near the future location of Dublin Square. Designed to look like an old style trolley, the Entertainment Express also stops at nearly 16 other entertainment locations including Oldsmobile Park, The Firm, The Exchange, The Nuthouse, Troppo, The Green Door and hotels including The Radisson, the Kellogg Center and the East Lansing Marriott. It operates every Thursday – Saturday from 7:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m, picking up riders every 30 minutes.
[outside5]The late running hours of the trolley will also benefit those who want to take advantage of Dublin Square’s plan to stay open late. According to Laporte, the restaurant will continue serving meals until at least 1 a.m., in order to better accommodate those who are there to enjoy Dublin Square’s night atmosphere. Audiology sophomore Lauren Hamilton feels that the restaurant will benefit from serving full meals late at night because of the college crowd’s nightly hunger. “College students are always out late and I think that if people are out late and they want something to eat, it will be a good place to go, especially if you can’t go to a regular bar,” Hamilton said. “It will be something different than the typical pizza and burritos you can usually get late at night.”
Although they have late night food, Dublin Square is aiming to be more than just another late night bar by adding many Irish touches to the architecture. While they are keeping much of the original building intact, many renovations are being made on the existing building to give it a real Irish flare. The entire interior of the restaurant, including all the furniture, bars, and decorations are being constructed in Ireland by a team of Irish designers and then shipped back to East Lansing for assembly. “I think people will be surprised with the level of finish and detail it has for a pub,” Laporte said.
The restaurant will be sectioned off into multiple areas, including several private rooms and bars. The bar areas will include various pool tables and dart boards, along with areas where customers can watch TV. Customers can also listen to Irish music, played every night starting at 10:30 p.m. Other more private areas will be geared toward customers there to enjoy a quieter dining experience. Plans currently involve several intimate areas including a Victorian library room with a fireplace where people can sit and eat away from the bar scene. There are three other fireplaces throughout the restaurant as well. Laporte said they chose to structure the restaurant in this way to bring the largest spectrum of people.
“The crowd [the restaurant will attract] crosses generational lines,” said Laporte. “Young professionals, old professionals, college students, there are areas for everyone. You can come in by yourself and watch TV or play darts with your friends. Couples can come for a dinner in a private area or people can just come for the main bar area.”
There is plenty to offer those who are under 21 years old or who choose not to drink. “Though I cannot drink there, this place sounds like I could go with my friends that are 21 and they could enjoy the bar scene while I can enjoy the Irish restaurant part,” no preference sophomore Heather Atkins said. “The various settings bring something for everyone. The Irish pub could be the new cool place to hang out late at night.”
According to East Lansing’s City Council, the restaurant has also proposed a 1,950-square foot deck addition. Laporte stated that he plans to use the addition for the location of a small outdoor bar where customers can sit and socialize. The deck will include an outdoor wood-burning fireplace that existed from the previous restaurant. In order to utilize the outdoor area further into the winter months, they also plan to equip the deck with a heated floor.
[inside5]Besides the deck addition and a few Irish-style columns, there will not be many changes to the exterior of the building. The plan is to keep as much of the original building as they can, in order to preserve the history. Not only did the building house the old Evergreen Grill until 2004, but it was also the home to the original East Lansing post office from 1934-1972. Laporte feels that the historical significance is a very important aspect to keep. “We tried to make changes that would keep the character and integrity of the original building,” Laporte said. “It is just such an architecturally significant piece of property.”
Laporte and Vlahakis chose to open a restaurant in East Lansing because they are both locals – Vlahakis is a MSU graduate and Laporte a resident of 15 years. They both had restaurant experience and decided East Lansing was lacking something. They looked into what kinds of restaurants would work best in East Lansing. “We looked in other college towns similar to East Lansing, and Irish pubs were very popular,” Laporte said. “I think the good combination of service and food will bring people in.”
Before any construction could begin on the restaurant, there were many procedures to be followed, which Laporte and Vlahakis began in April. According to East Lansing planning and development analyst Darcy Schmitt, the owners were required to meet with the City Council several times before their proposal was considered for approval. The proposal was approved on Oct. 8.
“I think it will add to the downtown area and to the restaurants we already have,\” Schmitt said.
Whether someone spent six weeks exploring Ireland or they don’t even know what a shamrock is, the upcoming addition to the bar scene is trying to bring something to the table for everyone. With a little Irish luck, maybe Dublin Square will do just that. After all, in a town that houses the Spartans, there’s always room for anything green.

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