Monday, January 28, 2008

New English pub coming to GF

The Marcil Group, a local real estate company, has announced plans to open as many as 60 English-style pubs in the Midwest. The chain that Marcil is partnering with is The Firkin Group of Pubs. The Marcil Group plans to have locations in both Grand Forks and Fargo open as early as this summer. (Marcil press release) (Herald story)

What do you think of this announcement? Take a look at their menu...opinions? Any idea where this Firkin Pub is going to go in Grand Forks? How do you think this will affect our other English-style pub, Tavern United?


Anonymous said...

A pub such as this would do well near the campus.

Matthew said...

A chain pub? Really?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone go to Tavern United? I've been there once and was not impressed with the prices.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone go to Tavern United? I've been there once and was not impressed with the prices."

I've been there a handful of time and have been surprised at how packed it can be.

We were there after the hockey game on friday night and couldn't even find a place to sit down, or belly up to the bar.

There domestic beer special on fridays attracts a lot of people from what I hear.

Anonymous said...

An open forum and no comments? But a chance to comment about a pub and it's off to a running start. :o) That says a lot about the clientele, boy!

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elucidarian said...

As much as the pub environment works for me, I found myself really wishing this weekend that GF had more clubs. What we have are bars and glorified bars. Buck's and El Roco are not clubs. Level 10 is an upscale bar. The Crosstown Lounge comes close to a small, consistent venue.

I wish we had a Red Raven, for example, as Fargo can claim. It's a coffee shop, so age is not a restriction. They keep bar hours, so you have an alternative to the bar when you want to be out late, in public, and not hanging out in a parking lot (which is what kids wind up doing much of in GF summers). And they host regular live music.

You can say Fargo has the population to sustain such a venue, but if you build it...?

The drive has never matched the desire for a stable local music scene in GF. From Pilsbury Park, Kosmos Cafe, 'Exploring the Fringe' concert series (Dream Project), to the Knights of Columbus basement, venues and events have come with wonderful results and gone with incredible frequency. I'm not sure what we need to keep these things alive.

jo said...

As a Brit who likes her pub grub, this is definitely something I would check out on one of my trips back to GF. Where is the pub going to be?

The menu is pricey, so if I still lived in GF it wouldn't be a regular visit. Also, the 'Firkin' entendre is really irritating. You see the same thing here in the UK with the French Connection logo FCUK, which was amusing for about 10 seconds and is now tacky-tastic.

Bass on tap is always good, and Dale I appreciate your penchant for a cheeky black 'n' tan, but nothing beats a Whitey's black 'n' blue *shudder*

MattFacingSouth said...

El - the problem with the venues you named was consistency. Having two shows a week won't pay the bills - most nights I walked by the Kosmos there were maybe one or two people in there and no bands playing.

With the high rents downtown and having to pay a band (like the competing "clubs" do), you pretty much have to have a band that draws five or six nights a week to make any sort of profit on coffee and snack sales. That kind of situation is barely attainable here.

Binge drinking drives the "clubs" revenue, as it were - most people I know don't even drink coffee, much less 6 cups in one sitting. And ND is the binge drinking captial, blah blah blah...

It comes down to competition.

Kelly Clow said...

"we went to an Irish pub on Saturday down here in Orlando"

It wasn't Raglan Road at Downtown Disney by chance was it? I was actually considering going there for dinner one of these nights, but I've heard that it is too pricey for the food quality.

BUT, I've also heard that the entertainment makes the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

I hope it is downtown. The Double Decker is a great 2-story restaurant/pub located downtown in Brandon, Manitoba. Brandon's populaton is similar to GF and the town is worth the 4 hour drive for a weekend trip.

Fireball Mcfain said...

Has anyone heard were its going?

Anonymous said...

Next to Simplot

Anonymous said...

I know at one time that the Marcil Group was attempting to develop the main level of the St. John's Block building, but now I see that a different company has signs in the windows, so who knows.

Anonymous said...

Nice idea to run a whole thread on the New English pub, GF Guy, but you might give some credit for spotting this news to this "anon" guy who posted two such entries, complete with a working link to the company's website, several days ago on the Denny's thread.

As for a potential St. John's Block location, they're advertising for tenants, so I don't see why the franchise couldn't check them out. I'd like to see all chains stay out of downtown, one of the few places where independently owned operations have a decent chance to survive, even flourish.

Anonymous said...


Do you know if you can get a Black and Tan at Tavern United? I went with a few friends there for food and then over to Playmakers in the CanadInn a weekend or two ago, and the guys that were working didn't even know what it was (granted, they also didn't have Bass on tap either)

Anonymous said...

another place to get sheet faced and drive home...ahhhh i love grand forks.

maura said...

A true black and tan is not made with bass. It is made with smithwick's. And my husband had a black and tan at tavern united, so you can get them there.

I'm excited for this addition to Grand Forks.

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks needs a place for kids to play and eat. I was in Minot and they have 2 places and they were both really packed

Beer Belly said...

For your next poll, vote on the best pub beer. Nothing like a Blue Moon with an orange slice!

gayly said...

I'll 2nd, 3rd and 4th that!!!
Blue Moon on tap with an orange, Ahhhh!!!

gayly said...

After checking out the menu link I can honestly say I am excited for this new addition to GF...I only hope it is as good as it sounds! As for Tavern United, I have been there a few times and was never really impressed with the food or their prices! I have heard comments about the 'skirts' and think that is a big attraction. Also, the darts and pool are free as long as you give them your i.d.
Even tho "Firkin" is another chain, it is at least a change...I'm frikin excited ;)! (excuse the pun)

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maura said...

I should have said a true Irish black and tan is smithwicks and Guinness. It even says so in the link you provided earlier, dale.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Best tap beer???
2 words: Grainbelt Premium.

jo said...

Dale - how was the shandy made? I'm interested because I once had real difficulty explaining to a server in Bonzers how to make a shandy (I'm Scottish and was looking for lager and lemonade with a 60/40 split. And I don't mean yellow non-carbonated lemonade, I think the closest we got was sprite / 7UP).

Not worth the effort, really :)

Anonymous said...

Ryan S. is saying on his blog that he had an interview with the CEO of Marcil and the new pub will hopefully be located in the St John's Block as part of a complete renovation of the building. That would be great news for downtown GF!

Anonymous said...

I'll second the Grain Belt Premium! !

fargodev said...

Chain pub? eww.

Those two words conjure up thoughts of people getting really excited over Applebee's and Walmart...businesses that are useful but cookie-cutter. Way too planned out and overthought in the way of marketing and profit maximization.

Gimme a crappy shotgun bar like The Hub in GF any day of the week over an "irish" (concept) pub.

So yes, eww...

Kelly Clow said...

Thanks Dale!

I hear so many things about places down here, but I've never had the opportunity to get an opinion from someone from back home!

I'm going to drive over there this Saturday. I go to Downtown Disney pretty frequently, but I tend to go to the same two places: House of Blues and Rainforest Cafe'.

I've passed Raglan Road plenty of times, and I've even eaten at the counter on the other side of the building for lunch, but I've never stepped into the dining room. I'll have to try the Shepard's Pie.

If it sucks, I'll blame you. Heh, heh! ;)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when IHOP plans to open or even better yet, when they plan on breaking ground? I thought Denny's and IHOP planned to open restaurants in GF at the same time and now Denny's is already open, yet the lot sits vacant next to Village Inn.

wannagrapple said...

Well, if the menu is any indication , the Fircking Pub is a confused mish mash of "let's try to please everyone while paying lip service to pub food".

Veggie Stir-fry?!



Coconut shrimp?!

The ubiquitous Chicken Fingers?!

What the heck kind of pub is this?!?!?! Why not just open another TGIF/Applebees?

I am not Fircking pleased with this bland, stamped out of a marketing-mold type of pub. :-/

Norm said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with previous posts. lets have a discuss about favorite pub beer.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Firkin' Pub. Kum and Go. Mother Fudrucker's.

Unimaginative, almost irreverent names for food places. What's the attraction to run-of-the-mill places like these, anyway?

There's a lot more out there to choose from, and I'd just as soon push my dollars in that direction.

Personal thought, only.

Anonymous said...

Spending time in London in the late 1990s, I remember seeing Firkin pubs everywhere. The chain no longer exists in the UK, and I remember locals looking down their noses at Firkin pubs. Why? Because they were the concoction of some "corporation," divorced from the neighborhood culture that defines the best of English pubs.

Kelly Clow said...


Are you on vacation down here, or do you live here now?

If you have the time, stop over to Tampa (40 min drive) and give the Boizao near International Plaza a look.

THAT place is Heaven on Earth!

It's a Brazilian Churrascaria-style steakhouse with table side meat service.

You get a disk with red on one side and green on the other, and if you leave the green side up, a Gaucho comes to your table and slices off different meats from a skewer until you say stop.

Kinda pricey (about $40 a person) but it is SO worth it at least once.

Anonymous said...

Kelly...Lee Barnum benefit starts tonight.

Thought you'd be aboard!

Kelly Clow said...

I was asked, or rather Nine and Numb was asked, to be a part of it but we're going through a restructuring of the troupe right now. I have members up there, but they are still in training and aren't stage-ready yet.

Believe me, I wish, with all my heart, that I could be there, but the plane trip up would be a bit problematic!

I wish everyone the best, and all my heart goes out to Lee Barnum. She is truly a classy, one-of-a-kind lady!

Coffee Guy said...

The best crab claws I ever had were at Fulton's in Downtown Disney. Sure, they cost $50, but they were incredible.

Re: Firkins...I'm already sick of the double entendre marketing, and that's just from spending 60 seconds on their website.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coffee Guy said...

Have fun down there, Dale!

I'm never surprised by the food I get at Disney. It's not always excellent, but often is, and they attract some of the best chefs in the world.

If you want a truly awesome meal go to Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It's one of the more expensive meals down there, but it is 100% worth it. We thought it was so good we went twice in November, once being an African take on the traditional Thanksgiving meal (on Thanksgiving).

Anonymous said...

what about the front of the opera house...that is a great space i hear and would be great for a place like this

wannagrapple said...

just out of curiousity... how loud is it in the Opera House when the train rolls by? specifically, is the rumble and the whistle terrible, or bearable? anyone have any experience there?

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the idea of Firkins moving into the Opera House front space than St. John's Block. There's plenty of parking in the ramp next to the Opera House, but very little on the 3rd & Demers intersection. Don't get me wrong, St. John's really needs to fill that space, but I think with a business that would bring in less traffic -- something like the classy kitchen/bath fixtures place at the same intersection or C&C interiors down the street. Both of them offer unique shopping opportunities downtown and have attractive displays in the windows, and pay their taxes, but add little to the traffic at downtown's busiest intersection.

Matthew said...

1. I live above Sledster's (right by Urban Stampede) on South 4th, and the trains are pretty loud sometimes (they've been especially annoying this past week for some reason). Opera House is about the same distance from the other side of the tracks, so I imagine that the trains would rock that building a little too.

2. Where is St. John's block?

3. I would welcome new businesses pretty much anywhere along South 3rd past Kittson. It's kind of desolate-looking.

Coffee Guy said...

"Where is St. John's block?"

It's the building diagonally across the street from Waterfront Bath. It has all sorts of Sale/Lease signs in the ground floor windows.

wannagrapple said...

"I much prefer the idea of Firkins moving into the Opera House front space than St. John's Block. "

Me too... and for the very reason that Matthew said:

"I would welcome new businesses pretty much anywhere along South 3rd past Kittson. It's kind of desolate-looking."

YEP!! That pr0n store shouldn't form the southern border of downtown. Lower level Opera sounds good to me too. A solid business there would act likea corner piece in a jig-saw puzzle... helping define the edge and support the whole. And anon had a good point about the parking. A Firkin Pub might also be a good place to lunch for courthouse folks and locals. Where else is there to lunch downtown, other than 3rd Street Cafe and Bonzers? (Please dont answer subway. please)

Anonymous said...

Tavern United is a little on the pricey side, but my main issue was my waitress. Rude and showing us her taint. I like to look at a nice taint as much as the next guy, but not while I am trying to eat fish and chips with my wife.

Anonymous said...

Sweet. You have a hell of a vocabulary. Can you elaborate since the Mrs. isn't here at this time?

Anonymous said...

Maura said: "A true black and tan is not made with bass. It is made with smithwick's."

POPPYCOCK!!! There are MANY different versions of the 'black and tan.' Don't be such a snooty snoot! 8-)

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old thread but...People, please, the Black and Tan trend was 25 years ago, actually more. I used to enjoy all the beers mentioned above. However, the American versions aren't the true formulas of what's produced "over there". What we get are formulas meant for worldwide distribution, or a contract brewed version. The exported products are pasteurized and have preservatives. I love beer, but don't drink much. The micro and craft beer trend is awesome. Myself, and many friends, have adopted the "Think Globally, Drink Locally" concept. Fresh beers brewed locally w/o preservatives and pasteurization.

So, a little sad I don't drink great products like Harp, Guinness, and Smithwhicks. Very happy to knock down the stuff brewed in my city/region and supporting regional ingredient suppliers.

Also, I'm sorry but, soda pop in your beer? No, no way.

goleafs27 said...

Just to clear up a misunderstanding that seems to be talked about on this site:

'Firkin' is actually a 9-gallon wooden barrel of beer. This is the 'mascot' this 'chain' has adopted. The fact that the language is 'cheeky' or 'irritating', as some have called it, has little to do with FCUK or any other cheezy corporate slogan as it does to an old, authentic way of storing beer.

The pubs are all unique and give no impression of a chain at all. Comparing them to an Applebee's, Outback, etc. is absurd.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this blog looking for a 'Firkin' logo and thought it worth while being from Toronto, to clear up the speculation. It's a really cool concept, we have 30 in our city and they are all very different and unique! You should be excited to have them coming there, although I had no idea they were!!

BTW- Nachos, shrimp, stir fry, calamari, and chicken fingers are basic pub staples!! Not sure what the complaint is all's a pub.


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BusinessDude said...

I think this shows that the recovery from recession has started, and businesses are once again deciding to expand and continue to grow their businesses. These pubs will be a great opportunity for jobs and local communities. However I do think that there are many existing pubs which closed down during the height of the recession which need to be reopened and get the pub industry and the pubs for sale market going again.