Endurance is the name of the game to thrive in the restaurant industry, and that quality – plus great food, an exceptional staff, and a loyal customer base – has served the owners of Galway Bay Irish Pub, Restaurant, and Gift Shop in Ocean Shores well. So well, in fact, that they are celebrating 30 years in business.
“It’s all about endurance,” says Liam Gibbons, founder and co-owner. “We are not absentee owners. We are in our restaurants every day we are home. Statistics show about 90-95% of restaurants fold in just a few years, and here we are at 30.”
The History of the Galway Bay Pub in Grays Harbor
Gibbons opened the original Galway Bay Pub in the Nantucket Square on April 23, 1993. When Christopher (Christy) Doyle started hanging out in the pub back in 1995, the two quickly became friends, with Doyle joining Gibbons as co-owner in 2012.
“We are in a unique situation because we are the best of friends,” Doyle says. “We are like brothers, and we are able to work together and help each other out. There’s also a legacy there that is important to us, whether it’s our own family or our chosen family.”
Why Ocean Shores and why an Irish pub? Gibbons explains: “Growing up in the Midwest, I went to an all-boys Catholic school, and my family was part of a huge Irish Catholic community. When I came out here to work as a forester in the early 1980s, there was nothing like that for me. I said, ‘I’ve got to change that!’ and decided to put some Irish culture into Ocean Shores.”
Doyle’s career in the food industry included 20 years with Burger King, working his way up to Regional Director. Fast forward to 2010, when Gibbons stepped back a bit to focus on creative projects, Doyle was contemplating a move from Seattle to be closer to his parents in Ocean Shores, and a plan was put into motion.
“We were both excited to make it a reality and, by 2012, our business partnership became official,” Doyle says. “For me, this entire experience has also been a bit like getting to explore my Irish heritage, and really dive deep into it.”
Gibbons credits his wife of 43 years, Linda, a retired teacher, and their daughters, Megan and Colleen, for supporting his endeavors through the years. “I couldn’t have done it without Linda and the girls,” he says.
Doyle adds: “We owe so much to our team. They are like family to us. We have longtime customers that come back year after year because they feel at home here and it’s the team that makes that happen.”
The team includes General Manager Lori Soroka (10 years), Operations Manager Alex Thurston (11 years), and Gift Shop Manager/Buyer Christine Turka (18 years). Many others have been an integral part of the team for several years.
Irish Restaurant in Ocean Shores Gives Customers the Irish Experience
The overall vibe of Galway Bay is welcoming, relaxed, and comfortable. It’s not just the pub and restaurant that bring repeat customers. The gift shop offers a vast amount of unique imported Irish and Celtic items, the garden area has an intimate feel, and a large banquet room is available by reservation for events and private parties. Enjoy entertainment every Friday and Saturday by Irish musicians and performers.
“It’s an experience when you step inside our doors,” Doyle says, “and people have all different types of experiences here. Relax with a glass of whiskey and a book in the tasting room. If you want to enjoy the music, come out on a Friday or Saturday. There’s a game room, Liam’s cigar shop, and a cigar patio out back. We offer tastings for whiskey, wine, and beer on a regular basis, and Christine offers Afternoon Tea by reservation.”
The experience is highlighted by the eclectic and extensive collection of Irish-themed décor. It’s often referred to as a museum by guests, whether they’re admiring photos, sports memorabilia, or the one-of-a-kind Guinness store. Oftentimes, guests take a self-guided tour inside the building with their drinks before settling down for a meal inside the restaurant or in the garden patio area.
Irish Food in Grays Harbor
Signature menu items include the world-famous corned beef sandwich, the mouth-watering shepard’s pie, and the Limerick sausage roll. The traditional Irish breakfast and the corned beef hash are both available all day.
There’s a daily soup, and vegan options are available. With a core menu in place, items are occasionally rotated, and specialty foods make an appearance on various holidays.
“In Ireland, the pubs – short for public house – are a place to gather together with friends,” Doyle says, “and that’s the type of environment we stress here. We want people to come in, have a drink and some good food, hang out, and take in the entire experience. We don’t overserve here, and we don’t encourage rowdy behavior.”
Galway Bay Irish Pub Celebrates More Milestones
The business partners will also celebrate 20 years of bringing their popular Celtic Music Feis to Ocean Shores this October 17-22. Reflecting on their 30-year anniversary of providing Irish food, drink, and entertainment to the Gray’s Harbor community, Gibbons and Doyle are humbled by the outpouring of support.
“We owe everything to our customers, our team members, and the City of Ocean Shores,” Doyle says.
Gibbons agrees.“We have a number of customers that have been with us from the very beginning, and people often make Galway Bay a must-stop when they come into town,” he adds. “We’d also like to thank the Irish Heritage Club of Grays Harbor. They are very supportive of our business and our music festival.”
Visit Galway Bay Irish Pub, Restaurant, and Gift Shop at 880 Point Brown Avenue NE in Ocean Shores, Washington. For more information, visit the Galway Bay Irish Pub, Restaurant and Gift Shop website or call 360.289.2300.Follow them on Facebook for the latest events.