Montpelier-based McGillicuddy’s shares expansion plans
By Luke Baynes
Williston basketball fans who had to drive to Burlington or Essex Junction to get the full March Madness experience might be getting a local alternative at which to watch next year’s tourney.
McGillicuddy’s Irish Pub, a mainstay of Montpelier’s Langdon Street since 1996, has entered into an agreement with Inland Western to lease property in Maple Tree Place. The new restaurant and pub will be in addition to the Montpelier location and will be called McGillicuddy’s Irish Ale House.
Dave Nelson, who also owns Mulligan’s Irish Pub in Barre, said he hopes to offer Willistonians a local alternative to chain-owned bar and grills.
“I envision something where if people are going for a movie, they can stop in for dinner, or if they’re working in the area, they can stop by for a drink,” Nelson said.
While Nelson said it is too early to discuss specifics of the new establishment, he anticipates that it will be similar to the McGillicuddy’s in Montpelier and will feature Irish cuisine like corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew, as well as Vermont products like cheeseburgers made with Highland beef and Vermont cheddar. He also hopes to have up to 36 beers on tap and will feature a variety of Vermont craft brews.
Although Nelson has yet to submit an application to the town, Williston Senior Planner Matt Boulanger said the process should be fairly straightforward because Nelson is leasing an existing space.
“It’s much less involved than if someone were to build a new restaurant,” Boulanger said.
Boulanger added that an establishment like McGillicuddy’s fits into the permitted uses of its zoning district and would add diversity to an area dominated by chains.
“It’s nice to see when a local can get into a fairly prime location,” he said.
Brian Ficek, a Fairfax resident who often stops in Williston on his way home from work in Montpelier, said he prefers locally owned pubs to chains.
“(Chains) don’t have the same appeal or ambience,” said Ficek. “McGillicuddy’s (in Montpelier) is a nice neighborhood bar and grill. It’s always been a good place for Sunday football, and for March Madness it’s always packed.”
Nelson said he wants the new McGillicuddy’s to be a “safe meeting place” where families can bring their children and women can feel comfortable going by themselves.
“I want to have a friendly place,” said Nelson. “We would love to be able to come into Williston and serve the community.”