Ma O’Brien’s Irish Pub opening early November at Elston & Parkside avenues
by BRIAN NADIG
The new Ma O’Brien’s Irish Pub, which is co-owned by Jefferson Park and Edgebrook residents, is planning to open the first weekend in November inside the former Nil Tap at 5734 N. Elston Ave.
The Nil Tap closed Oct. 8, and the building’s new owners are completing renovations in preparation for the grand opening.
The mostly cosmetic changes will give the bar “a softer look (and) a sitting room kind of feel,” said Jefferson Park resident Aine O’ Brien, who co-owns the bar with business partner and Edgebrook resident Paul Higgins. New flooring and upgraded bathrooms also are planned, she said.
The name “O’Brien” is returning to the tavern, as the bar was named Rosie O’Brien’s prior to 2007, when sisters Pat and Lin (their names backwards spell “Nil Tap”) took over. “Ma O’Brien’s” refers to Aine and her mother Ann, who will be flying in from Ireland for the opening.
O’Brien said that she is thrilled to be opening a business near where she has lived and raised her family for more than 20 years. Her children went to Prussing School and Taft High School.
Aine most recently worked as Google’s Global catering program manager, and previously built a 25-plus year career in Chicago’s restaurant and hospitality industry with Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, LYFE Kitchen, Restaurant Associates and Compass Group.
“Ma’O’Brien’s is a reflection of owner Aine O’Brien’s fondest memories of enchanting Irish pubs from her childhood in Clarina, Co Limerick, Ireland. It’s a heartfelt homage to her early days of hospitality training at the renowned Dublin Institute of Hospitality, where she honed her skills in Killarney’s vibrant hospitality industry,” a company news release said.
Its beverage menu will include Guinness draught, Magner’s Irish Cider, local craft beers, a curated selection of Irish and American whiskeys, and by-the-glass fine wines from around the world.
The tavern does not have a kitchen, but soup and snacks may be added later, O’Brien said.
Sports will be available on multiple screens. “We’ll have the games from across the pond and here, … Premier League, American football” and Chicago teams, she said.
Updates on the opening will be available on the bar’s Facebook page.