December 17, 2014
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Jefferson Blvd. eatery to get new life as Doherty’s Irish pub
Pete Fontaine
MAN BEHIND THE PLAN: Jack Doherty, who came to Rhode Island 26 years ago from his native home in Bronx, N.Y., stands by what will be one of two bars inside the 7,600-square foot building that will open at Doherty’s Irish Pub. The building has housed four other restaurants over a 40-year span.

Whatever the name and the style of cooking, the restaurant at 30 Jefferson Boulevard has always enjoyed a steady clientele. Now the location that went under the names of the Coachman Grille, El Torito Restaurant, Bugaboo Creek and most recently Venezia Italian Restaurant is about to go Irish.

Come June 1, the 7,600-square foot building will take on an entirely new look and features.

That’s the date Doherty’s Irish Pub will become part of Warwick’s restaurant scene with a concept never before featured at the location.

While Doherty’s will offer seating for up to 300 people, the Irish Pub will have two bars, 120 different craft beers on tap, a menu that will range from appetizers to comfort food to burgers and beyond and different sections of seating for everything from public dining to private rooms for dinner and meetings.

“I think we’re gong to do pretty good here!” said Jack Doherty, an iconic Rhode Island restaurateur who has partnered with Warwick native Jim Sullivan in four other highly successful eating and drinking establishments. “This restaurant location has had a pedigree of success; it has been very successful for 40 years. There’s parking for 150 cars and we’re just 30 seconds off the highway.”

And pumping new life into a once established location is nothing new for Doherty, who – for example – has the one-time popular Shannon View Inn on Post Road in Warwick nearly back to when it was the place to go for a soup or sandwich and a pint of Guinness.

Likewise, Doherty has another in place in Pawtucket that was founded as the First and Last Chance Saloon that is now Doherty’s East Avenue Pub.

What Doherty calls a “hodgepodge ownership group that really doesn’t have a name because different owners are involved” also has two other successful venues in Sullivan’s Publick House on West Shore Road in the Conimicut section of Warwick and Sullivan’s Public House in the Darlington section of Pawtucket.

When asked about the secret to his success, Doherty said, “Good pub fare is what we go after. We buy all quality items ... we have great staffs and remember, always trust a fat chef!”

Doherty, though, is no longer considered fat.

He has amazed countless customers with an extraordinary weight loss.

Doherty said his weight loss could possibly serve as an inspiration to others who’d like to be healthy and shed some pounds.

“I lost 130 pounds,” Doherty said. “I woke up one morning and said no more drinking; I just went running ... like Forest Gump.”

Doherty said he’s been working in restaurants all his life.

“It’s the only job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I went from being a dishwasher at 13 years old to a vice president of operations-proprietor. Today I’m 45 and they call me a Publican!”

That is, for all intents and purposes, the English word for a pub owner.

Doherty, who came to Rhode Island from his native home in the Bronx, N.Y. when he was 19 to attend Johnson & Wales University, began working in the restaurant business for Houlihan’s, a nationally famous chain that had a location in Boston.

Not long after, Doherty was back in the Ocean State – in Narragansett to be precise – where he opened his first business and called it “Fat Jack’s Pizza Shack.”

“My place was right next door to Charlie O’s,” Doherty said. “From there I just kept going a little by little,” and met Sullivan, with whom he has partnered ever since.

People who know Doherty and Sullivan will tell you they have a unique recipe that spells success.

“Jim is a master carpenter,” Doherty said of Sullivan. “We’re hands-on guys; he builds all the stores for us. I cook, he builds ’em and I run ’em. I guess that’s a pretty good recipe for getting it done.”

So now the Sullivan-Doherty duo has embarked on another exciting venture they hope to turn from a vacant building into a popular and busy business, one that will offer everything from appetizers to burgers to fish ’n chips to steak tips and comfort food like Shepard’s Pie and turkey dinners.

The new Doherty’s Irish Pub at 30 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick will also offer private areas where people can hold small dinner meetings and parties.

Doherty said the restaurant at his newest location will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day. The kitchen, though, will close at midnight.

When asked if Doherty’s Irish Pub will have entertainment, he said, “Maybe acoustic stuff.”

Brunch?

“Not when we open,” Doherty said about the brunch that’s offered at the East Avenue Pub in Pawtucket. “We want to concentrate on getting out of the gate!”


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