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Donovan's Irish Pub celebrates 10 years Sept. 16

Date: 9/7/2010

Sept. 6, 2010

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Restaurateur and innkeeper Michael Donovan tried to get out of the hospitality business.

Back in 2000, the former owner of the popular downtown Springfield eatery, Caf Manhattan, was enjoying a break from the hustle and bustle of running a restaurant.

Then the long-dormant Black Forest Pub at Eastfield Mall caught his eye.

On Sept. 16, he and his wife and partner, Diane, will celebrate 10 successful years of serving up food and drink with an Irish flair in their latest venture, Donovan's Irish Pub at the Eastfield Mall.

The anniversary party starts with food and music at 5 p.m.

"We've sent a lot of invitations to a lot of people politicians, people we do business with, regular customers," Michael Donovan said. "But our doors are going to be open to the public. If someone comes through, they're welcome."

He's expecting a crowd that will rival their fifth anniversary bash, which that year combined the pub's anniversary with a halfway to St. Patrick's Day party.

"I always thought [Springfield] was a good place for an Irish pub," Donovan continued. "[The] first bar that I ever opened, this is going back to Chestnut Street [in Springfield], was called Donovan's Reef, named after the [John Wayne] movie. I was 29 years old."

Donovan said the Irish pub idea didn't succeed back then -- "Springfield wasn't ready" -- but with this reincarnation, modeled on the homey, dark wood atmosphere of an Irish pub he and his wife visited in the Emerald Isle 30 years ago, the couple seems to have found the right bit o' magic.

Magic that combines a weekday menu offering a mix of classic American dishes and traditional Irish favorites -- such as corned beef and cabbage and shepherd's pie - and a Sunday breakfast highlighting hearty old sod fare with weekend entertainment featuring local Irish favorites The Healys with John Tabb on Friday evenings and The Bards on Saturday nights.

"The Healys . have been here since we opened. The Bards, they're from the old country and they sing traditional Irish music," Donovan said, adding that the pub hosts bands that play a softer style of music on Thursday nights.

And though his operation is at heart a pub, it's not a rowdy establishment.

"It's a family operation; we cater to families with children," Donovan said, adding that traditional pubs in Ireland are "a place where you can bring your grandmother, and your children. That's what we do here."

But Donovan isn't resting on his laurels. Toward the end of September, he said the pub will be introducing an updated lunch and dinner menu featuring corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips and shepherd's pie "every day" along with an expanded selection of sandwiches.

And the party itself will continue, too. On Sept. 17, Donovan's Irish Pub will host its traditional halfway to St. Patrick's Day party this year.

The pub is located at 1655 Boston Rd. in the Eastfield Mall. For information call 543-0791.

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