ST. ALBANS CITY — Call it the luck of the Irish.
Shannon and Jason Smith are the new co-owners of Nelly’s Pub & Grill, the Irish-themed restaurant on the corner of Federal and Kingman streets.
Shannon also owns La Casa Burrito, the Mexican restaurant beside the Grind on South Main Street.
The Smiths came before the city council Monday for Nelly’s new liquor license.
In the process, Shannon shared the Smiths’ plan for their space.
Nelly’s is comprised of two spaces: the restaurant itself and a club area.
Shannon praised the work of Nelly’s prior owner, Paul Martin, in developing the restaurant area.
“I think Paul’s done an amazing job changing that over, and making it a place that people like to go and gather,” Shannon said.
As for the club side, Shannon said she and her husband “go back and forth on that.”
The club itself “is a little outside of our comfort zone,” she said. “But I think it is still a needed service.”
So while the Smiths plan to continue the club, Shannon said they’d like to use that area as more of an event space — for retirement parties, anniversary parties, live music, events “a wider variety of people would like to go to.”
As for the club, Shannon said, “We plan on aiming to … make that a little better than it currently is.”
The Smiths also plan to expand Nelly’s hours.
The restaurant is currently closed Sundays and Mondays, but Smith said they may open the restaurant on those days — particularly Sunday, for events like Sunday football.
Shannon said the Smiths are also considering opening earlier. Nelly’s opens now at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday, but 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Shannon said they might open the restaurant earlier for lunch.
“But that would be a little further down the road,” she told the council. “Probably after the first of the year.”
Councilors seemed excited about the change in ownership.
“A lot of people are excited about this,” said councilor Tim Hawkins, who ultimately made the motion to approve Nelly’s liquor license.
Councilor Mike McCarthy positively noted that La Casa Burrito, which also has a liquor license, has no reported violations of its license in its year-and-a-half of operation.
But the praise went both ways.
On her way out the door, Shannon told the council, “You guys have done an amazing job with the town, so… it makes it a little easier for us.”
“With the city, too, right?” Hawkins joked, to laughter.
Shannon said that’s what she meant.
The city’s mayor, Tim Smith, thanked the Smiths for choosing to operate businesses in St. Albans.
And lest anyone make the wrong assumption, Smith started the liquor license hearing with a disclaimer.
“Under full disclosure, I do have a sister named Shannon Smith,” the Mayor said. “But it’s not my sister.”
City Manager Dominic Cloud pointed out, “Your daughter’s named Nelly.”
No one accused Smith of having family members named “Burrito.”
Martin opened Nelly’s as “Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub” on St. Patrick’s Day 2017.
Prior to Martin’s acquisition, Club Karib occupied that space.
Long before the club, that space housed the family restaurant the Cornerstone.