You are seated in one of the finest entertainment establishments in the Twin Cities, a place of nostalgia, charm and good humor.
In March of 1941, James Freeman O’Gara opened the doors of this tavern providing a wholesome atmosphere for conversation and camaraderie. Initially food and liquor was served to the local residents who fought World War II at home by manufacturing supplies and munitions for those overseas. You could even get a haircut from Carl Schulz, whose son, Charles gained international fame with the cartoon strip “Peanuts.” Schulz’s original shop was located in what is now the Shamrock Room.
Gradually, the O’Gara reputation for serving excellent food and drink at a fair price became known and has ensured an ever-growing trade. In fact, O’Gara’s is the oldest family owned operation of its kind in Saint Paul still at the original location. Several people lay claim to employment at O’Gara’s of 35 years or more. The bar has always been an Irish haunt by virtue of its name and clientele, but the family has burnished that image over the years, and they’ve seen the bar become perhaps the busiest place in town on St. Patrick’s Day.
If the O’Gara name isn’t Irish enough, certainly the décor is. The mural of leprechaun cobblers on the south wall of the main dining area was done from creation by founder, Jim O’Gara. The shillelagh over the adjoining all-wood bar is also the real item, coming from the County Sligo, home of the first O’Gara clan. One glance at it and you’ll see why unruly behavior doesn’t exist here! The new bar and dining area speaks for itself. The etched glass, alternating family name with family crest, along with a three-quarter ton green granite bar top adorned with brass, were specifically designed for this expanded section.
The expansion of O’Gara’s is the fulfillment of a dream by Tim, who succeeded his father Jim in 1972. Tim’s knowledge and desire to satisfy has resulted in the expansion of new rooms, including the Shamrock Room, Brew Pub and The Shanty. The main bar, The Shamrock Room, established in 1982, hosts jazz/big bands and acoustic sing along music with traditional O’Gara hospitality. This room has played host to many banquets and private parties. O’Gara’s Garage was established in 1985 and renovated in 2011 to become The Shanty, one of St. Paul’s premiere music clubs, featuring the Twin Cities finest local/national acts. The Brew Pub, opening in 1996, once consisted of a wide selection of O’Gara’s own handcrafted brews, brewed on site.
The tradition continues with the third generation of the O’Gara clan. Dan, Tim’s son, started learning the business at an early age and grew to share the same passion for providing great food, fine spirits, and entertainment to thousands of people. Dan and his wife Kris now carry on the O’Gara’s tradition since Tim’s retirement in March of 2003.
Over the past five years, O’Gara’s legendary reputation in the Twin Cities has created opportunities to expand, becoming one of Minnesota’s finest establishments. O’Gara’s at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport opened in October of 2007 serving as a warm welcome and bon voyage for travelers at the end of Concourse F. In addition, O’Gara’s at the Fair opened in 2002 on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in the Food building. In 2010 they opened their own standalone restaurant and expanded to include the O’Gara’s Paddyo in 2011. O’Gara’s at the Fair is currently located in the same spot at 1626 Dan Patch Ave, just inside the main gate of the fairgrounds on Snelling Avenue. O’Gara’s at the Fair is open for several events during the year offering a full menu and numerous craft beers on tap, in addition to ample indoor restaurant and outdoor patio seating! The fair location continues the O’Gara tradition of providing entertainment along with food and fun in a family-friendly setting. Stop by O’Gara’s at the Fair to enjoy live Irish music every afternoon during the Minnesota State Fair and see the classic woodwork from the original O’Gara’s Bar and Grill back when Jim O’Gara opened the doors in 1941.
O’Gara’s has come a long way since it’s establishment in 1941, but remains a place with a welcoming atmosphere for conversation and community camaraderie.