Shea O’Brien’s shuts its doors

New Paltz Rotary member Garvan McCloskey (who is also the manager of Shea O’Brien’s) is hoping to raise $10,000 for Family of New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Garvan McCloskey. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

In the dining room of Shea O’Brien’s in New Paltz, manager Garvan McCloskey surveyed the uncharacteristic mess: empty bottles and cans, food containers and other refuse were strewn about the tables and floor of the otherwise very tidy establishment, conveying the message that the staff was asked to leave on very short notice. “We are devastated,” he said of the decision to close, many details of which he was not at liberty to share.

McCloskey was part of the “real Irish welcome” the patrons experienced, as he relocated from that country to New Paltz in 2012 to run the day-to-day operations at Shea O’Brien’s. “We never had a trading issue,” he said, using Irish terminology for “business problem;” the annual revenue was in seven figures. “The genesis of the problems were what we would call a bomb attack in Ireland,” which he also described as an “incendiary device,” which caused the fire which delayed the restaurant’s opening for seven months. He carefully avoided providing specific details that tied that incident to the decision to close suddenly, but said that it was due to “issues beyond our control, that we can’t change,” and that “we prefer not to deal with anymore.”

What worries him most is the fate of some 30 employees, now without work, although he said every effort is being made to find them new jobs. He said that they are all highly trained, from the dishwashers and cooks to the table staff, as part of the establishment’s mission to provide an alternative eating and drinking venue that was family friendly and comfortable for an older adult crowd. “I feel strongly about letting them down,” he said. However, McCloskey is in the same boat, as contrary to popular opinion, he was not an owner, and as manager of the shuttered pub, is now looking for work himself.

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Looking back, he calls it a “wonderful ride. I didn’t know one person two-and-a-half years ago,” when he arrived from Ireland, “and I now know more than most.” He said he’s received “hundreds of messages” from concerned locals, checking to see if everything’s okay, or “if there’s any way we can help you reopen. It’s the kind of village we live in.” He said even Mike Beck, owner of P&G’s and thus a direct competitor, offered help to get Shea O’Brien’s open again.

Whether that’s possible at another location is unknown, and the business owners weren’t in the mood to talk to the press. McCloskey said that one location suggested frequently, the former site of Barnaby’s on North Chestnut Street, lacks the parking needed for such a business. It’s also the subject of a current application before the village Planning Board for a church to move in.

Dino Toscani, whom McCloskey identified as the landlord, said when he was reached by phone that the closure was a temporary, internal matter and that the restaurant would be open again next week.

There are 22 comments

  1. Annette

    What a loss to the New Paltz community. They gave back so much and it was a great place to just enjoy the Irish vibe. There is a empty Pizza place up the road with plenty of parking and is walking distance to everything. They must find a way to stay in the community. What’s this Italian family going to do without our fix of the Shea’s famous Shepard’s Pie 🙁 Thank you for serving our community with such great food, music and that fighting Irish spirit.

  2. Eleanor

    It will truly be missed with the place I went to every time in New Paltz. As many pictures of Garvin posing with whomever I was with. Exchanging stories of Ireland and also of America. Good luck with your future endeavors hopefully those doors will open again and you can share your Irish welcome with some new and old people take care and Slainte’from Kilkenny!

  3. Tonino

    Great staff and a great place. Unfortunately everything that involves Dino in one way or another turns to poo! I’ve never met anyone more full of it than this wanna be wise guy!

  4. JohnnyBoy

    Shea’s will be missed. We only hope they will pop up again soon.
    All of the Dino renters should fold up and let him suffer the loss, maybe he will sell out, great Day for the Irish.

  5. Red

    Don’t leave us Shea’s! I hope you find another building to rent or buy. I think next to Rock n Show the building might be empty? It’s a shame some personal politics or Spite from Dino had to come to a closing!! Shea’s has helped the New Paltz community when they helped raise funds for Family of New Paltz. New Paltz needs businesses like that. They also employed nice people.

  6. Mike

    This is such a shame, but I’m really frustrated that none of the reporting uncovered the real reason behind the closing. Seems like that is the real story.

  7. Andrew

    Terrible shame. Great food and atmosphere. Barnabys has been on the market since Peter died however the church lease fell through according to Dino (youngest brother). The lease price is too high for anyone who doesn’t have 7 figures to spend. As for Shea’s, I hope they either reopen or relocate. Either way they’ll have a healthy following.

  8. Nancy

    This was one of our favorite places. The food was excellent and Garvan was the best host, making you feel welcome. Am devastated to hear this.

  9. Wendy crandall

    I think it’s bull crap because I just received a 100$ gift cert from there the first Saturday in October. They should have never sold it to my friends that got it for me or they should refund money. Very unethical and shitty and that was my favorite place.

    1. Martina Scott

      From the wording in the article, this decision seemed to be pretty sudden for all parties involved. I highly doubt that they’d sell friends a gift card with knowledge of the closing. From my experience with Shea’s there isn’t a person there who I could see maliciously selling things that’d ultimately end up useless.

    1. Red

      Wendy, Im sure it could be turned in for cash with no problem. NO Gift certificate was sold to your friends to deliberately cheat you. This seems to be a sudden closing as one other person mentioned. Just find a contact with Garvind and he’ll take care of it.

  10. Francine Delmar

    What a shame this is. My husband and I really like This place. That was our date place. I pray they move to another place. We would be right back with you Garvin and friends. What a shame when people get greedy

  11. Dawn

    So sad to see this happen to such great people. My husband and I will not spend our money in any establishment that open in place of Shea’s. Hope Shea opens somewhere soon. Best food, atmosphere and service in New Paltz.

  12. Susan

    They had a fire that delayed opening? And that delay is why they are closing?
    But the end says the restaurant is reopening?
    This article makes no sense.

  13. Raya

    I can not stress how upsetting this is. My family and I loved Shea O’Brien’s! My father passed in April and was an Irish man all the way. We went to Shea’s and met with Garvin who told us he could absolutely hold my fathers dinner there. After the funeral we all set off to Shea’s and everyone who came absolutely LOVED it. They did such a beautiful job and Garvin was so beyond helpful. They had an incredible Irish band playing who played my father a farewell. I will never forget this place for not only the beautiful job they did for my family when we needed it most but for the incredible food and welcoming atmosphere. If you should open anywhere else, we will be there! Long live Shea O’Brien’s!!

  14. Judith Richards

    Shea O’Brien’s was the kind of place I felt comfortable going to alone, sitting at the end of the bar, sipping hard cider and people watching. The food was great and people so welcoming. I introduced several of my friends to the place and they all enjoyed it. What a loss for us all! Here’s hoping they decide to resettle somewhere locally soon.

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