Irish-themed bars, eateries work hard for their pot o’gold on St. Patrick’s Day

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  • Kermit the Frog had it mostly right: It's not easy being green except on St. Patrick's Day, when being the color of a shamrock is a definite advantage.

    Whether they sell green suds or Irish stout, jiggs dinner, or shepherd's pie, for Irish pubs and restaurants the week of St. Patrick's Day is the greenest time of the year.

    Some Toledo area bars have spent months preparing events and celebrations, meeting with committees, booking bands, and coordinating schedules.

    "This is the only day/​weekend of the year no one is allowed to request off," said Bill Kline, general manager of the Blarney Irish Pub in downtown. On a normal weekend the bar has five to 10 people working each shift. This weekend, there will be at least 20 staff people and a handful of volunteers to staff the bar and outdoor beer tent.

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    Live music, contests, and food are all planned, as everything is bigger for St. Patrick's Day, including the crowd and supply orders. Mr. Kline said the pub will serve between 60 and 80 barrels of beer, along with thousands of bottles of beer to the 7,000 to 9,000 patrons expected this weekend. Of that total, between 3,000 and 5,000 are expected Monday, the official day of observance.

    "It's just a reason, or an excuse to celebrate," Mr. Kline said.

    Mulvaney's Bunker Irish Pub & Grub, on Dorr Street near Reynolds Road, has been planning for its St. Patrick's Day festivities since it opened its doors seven months ago. About two months ago, the bar staff went from floating ideas to weekly meetings.

    "For an Irish bar, St. Patrick's Day is it," said Matt Killam, general manager at the Bunker. "With this being our first year, we have to get it right. We don't know what to expect, but we're shooting for the moon."

    With DJs, drink specials, games, contests, and a menu full of traditional Irish grub, the Bunker is part of an annual St. Patrick's Day bar crawl, which also includes Paddy Jack's, O'Shea's Irish Pub, Bier Stube, Ye Olde Durty Bird, and several others.

    St. Patrick's Day revelers can get an extra-early start this year, with some area bars opening before dawn and serving up breakfast dishes that include kegs and eggs and green pancakes.

    The Stones Throw Tavern and Grill in Bowling Green, usually opens at 4 p.m. on Mondays, but is hoping to find a pot of gold with a 5:30 a.m. start time and hand-pumped beer. Bar manager Chris Cox said the tavern expects to serve more than 2,000 people this weekend.

    "B.G. has a huge turnout for St. Patrick's Day. This town seems to really be into it," Mr. Cox said. "I don't think there's a single person in B.G. who isn't Irish on St. Patrick's Day."

    According to U.S. Census figures, more than 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.

    The National Retail Federation predicts St. Paddy's Day spending for 2014 will be about $4.8 billion, a slight increase from last year. More than 30 percent of party-goers will celebrate at a restaurant or bar, spending about $36 each, according to the NRF. Beer sales in the United States are expected to top $255 million.

    Stay safe

    AAA of Northwest Ohio will provide a free tipsy tow, a one-way ride for drivers and their vehicles at no cost for up to 10 miles. Drivers will only be towed to their home or to a hotel where they are guests. For tipsy tow, call 1-800-AAA-HELP (1-800-222-4357) from 6 p.m. Friday, through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

    Contact RoNeisha Mullen or 419-724-6133.