Irish eyes are smiling
Clarke Irish Pub to open soon

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

August 7, 2014

A sign reads “profanity makes ignorance audible” over the bar at The Clarke Hotel. The bar will be reopening soon with an Irish pub theme.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - Irish eyes - and eyes of every other type - will soon be smiling in downtown Waukesha as The Clarke Irish Pub plans to open its doors very soon.

“The earlier the better,” said bar manager Paul Ward, who has run the pub at Milwaukee’s County Clare Inn for the past 14 years.

Ward said the bar inside The Clarke Hotel hotel at 314 W. Main St. will definitely be up and running within the next couple of weeks, and the restaurant should be open by September.

Harp & Eagle Limited, owners of inn-and-pub combos all over the state including Milwaukee’s County Clare, closed on its $1 million purchase of the hotel in May. The hotel has remained operational but the restaurant and bar have been empty since September 2012, when the former owner left town amid personal and legal troubles.

The taps at The Clarke Hotel bar - soon to reopen as The Clarke Irish Pub - now feature Irish favorites like Guinness and Magner’s Irish Cider.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

The pub’s retaining the Clarke name because the Clarke family, whose name has been on that property for decades, had an Irish heritage, Ward said.

The freshly remodeled bar features lots of nods to the Emerald Isle, including a pale green hue, Irish blessing on the wall and an ambiance that Ward hopes will invoke the feeling of Irish “public houses” - better known as pubs.

The Clarke Hotel bar, soon to reopen as The Clarke Irish Pub, is reflected in a mirror advertising Redbreast Irish Whiskey.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

“It’s where people would come to talk business. Farmers, politicians ... it was like a city hall,” said Ward, himself from County Clare, Ireland. One of his fellow Irishmen, Seamus Boyle, built all the pub’s dark wooden benches by hand to provide an intimate setting for patrons to enjoy the nine (for now) tap beers that the pub will offer, at some of the lowest prices in town.

Ward said he hopes the pub will be known for its high-quality drinks that feature only name-brand colas and energy drinks - nothing generic out of a soda gun. He’ll be serving up Irish coffees featuring fair-trade Valentine Coffee, a Wauwatosa-based roast making its first inroads into Waukesha County at The Clarke Irish Pub.

The Clarke Irish Pub's manager,
Paul Ward.
 Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Ward said he also expects the pub will be known for its friendly, secure atmosphere.

“We capitalize on the human spirit,” Ward said. “My favorite saying is ‘Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet.’ This is a place where you stop looking at your phone and talk to each other. The number one thing is hospitality and making you feel at home.”