The Emerald Isle is well known across the world for hospitality in their pubs. Providing customers with “craic” and a traditional Irish experience, not only on St. Patrick’s Day, but throughout the year, is consistently top of mind for Jim Dooney, owner of Dooney’s Irish Pub. Heady Times recently sat down with Jim to talk about the popularity of the bar and restaurant in Delran and the new location opening this summer in Voorhees.
Heady Times (HT): You own a number of businesses. What inspired you to open Dooney’s?
Jim Dooney (JD): I’ve been in the restaurant business for almost my whole life. My wife and I are both Irish, so about 10 years ago, we decided to open a full-service restaurant which naturally gravitated to the concept of an American bar with an Irish flair. We went to Irish pubs in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia to see what they did well and incorporated it into our establishment. We also own a Wahlburger’s restaurant in Philly and a few SaladWorks in the area.
HT: What types of Irish beer do you have available?
JD: Guinness; it is our top seller behind Miller Lite, and we have 24 beers on tap. We have had the entire Guinness trilogy – Guinness Stout, Harp, and Smithwick’s – on tap since the day we opened. We are also one of the only locations in South Jersey that have Kilkenny available on draft. Guinness is not only popular served over the bar, but it is incorporated in much of our business, including the food. We use it in multiple menu items, including our Guinness BBQ sauce. Our special events room, which seats up to 80 people, is also called the Guinness room.
HT: Aside from the beer, what makes your establishment so popular?
JD: The success of all my restaurants has been driven by the quality of people we employ; people make the business. We wanted to create a family-like atmosphere. All four of our daughters have worked at the restaurant and we treat our staff like family as well. My goal isn’t to make the most money, it’s to improve the experience for my employees. When employees are happy, they organically become advocates for the restaurant. Customers sense their authenticity and become advocates of Dooney’s as well.
HT: How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
JD: St. Patrick’s Day is the highlight of the year. We open at 8am for Kegs and Eggs. By 8:30 the bar is three deep. We have Irish music all day long from various local bands. It’s a great experience and the largest party in the area. We also have a large Cinco de Mayo Celebration each year with bucket beer specials featuring Corona and Pacifico and featuring our fish tacos, which were voted best in South Jersey by the Courier Post.
HT: You have a second location opening this summer. Tell us about it!
JD: The new Dooney’s, off Rt. 73 in Voorhees, is slated to open in July. I grew up in the area, so I was familiar with the location and knew there was a need for a concept like ours. We are very active on social media in order to promote our specials, craft beer dinners, and limited release beers, so our following is already buzzing about Dooney’s in Voorhees.