Nealy O’Briens – homey local hangout really hits the spot

Neighbourhood pub/liquor outlet enjoying steady increase in business

Patrons Trish McKendry and Michael Conrad relax. At right is proprietor Steve Cartwright.

Patrons Trish McKendry and Michael Conrad relax. At right is proprietor Steve Cartwright.

With a name like “Nealy O’Briens” you can bet the neighbourhood pub and liquor store in the Columbia Plaza (No Frills) will be hoppin’ on March 17. But the friendly meeting place is a safe bet for a great time… any time at all.

Nealy O’Briens is the sort of place people think of when the topic of favourite pubs comes up. The kitchen is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the tried and true menu is likely to be exactly what you’re hoping for, whether you’re a newcomer or one of the regulars who comprise the wide majority of Nealy’s clientele.

Nealy O’Briens is the product of Steve and Kate Cartwright’s energy and people skills. The business is heading into its sixth year and Steve says things are going the way they want them to.

The Cartwrights are transplanted Victorians who came to Castlegar for the quality of life and the nice local people.

“It’s everything we wanted and more,” said Steve this past Monday afternoon.

“Our business model is going well,” continued the man with the bankable related experience. He had, after all, come here fresh from a successful stint as the bar manager in Victoria’s Grand Pacific Hotel. Suffice to say he’s got the right balance of personality and business savvy working for him.

As mentioned, there’s a strong focus on traditional pub-style cuisine at Nealy O’Briens, but that’s not all.

“When people leave here we want them to be happy about their meal, and feel they got good value for their dollar,” said Steve.

“Every bite I had was good,” offered Trish McKendry from the adjoining booth about her freshly-consumed tossed salad… “phenomenal!”

This is also a top location in which to celebrate the love of televised sports. Along with a couple of big-screen TVs, roughly half of the available wall space is devoted to sports-related stuff… plenty of jerseys, for example and other memorabilia.

The walls on the other half is covered over by shirts and other attire picked up from pubs, cantinas and other refreshment zones around the world.

Steve, Kate and their staff (totalling 15 between the pub and liquor store) are in a happy place, business wise.

Steve says that although their clientele is made up of about 98 per cent regulars, the welcome mat is always out for newcomers. With a couple of motels close by, they do see a pleasing stream of guests.

“We get a little busier every year through word-of-mouth,” Steve concluded.

“It’s nice to have people from out-of-town come by who have friends in Castlegar that have recommended the place.”

Try Nealy O’Briens for lunch, or whatever… and see if you don’t agree with that 98 per cent who figures it’s worth regular, repeated visits.