Spotlight: Walsh’s Snug, Newcastle

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Measures taken by Walsh's Snug to meet COVID challenges, better serve their guests, and form innovative community partnerships haven't gone unnoticed in their community...

Photo of John Walsh, co-proprietor of Walsh's Snug, Newcastle, Ontario
John Walsh of Walsh’s Snug in Newcastle, Ontario.

Any local will tell you that Downtown Newcastle and the surrounding communities have continued to see significant growth and development over the past several years. Happily, even in light of all the development, downtown Newcastle has retained and cultivated its small-town charm and preserved its historical roots. Walsh’s Snug, a unique and rootsy Irish-style pub located on King Avenue, is no exception to this. After ten years of successfully serving guests in nearby Bowmanville, John and Leslie Walsh decided to open the doors to Walsh’s Snug in downtown Newcastle. That choice served to further extend the long legacy John’s family holds in the hospitality industry: the family has been in the pub business in Ireland since the late 1800s. Additionally, John’s aunts have run successful pubs all over Ireland and the UK.

This space’s mellow atmosphere and eclectic energy can be felt prior to stepping in the front door (Note: Provincial COVID-19 measures do not allow for indoor dining at the time of writing). Once inside, expect to be greeted by the sounds of live music from local performers, and a friendly hello from the front-of-house staff. The menu further continues the perfect blending of pub elements, marrying the traditional (pasties and colcannon) with the modern (wings and burgers). The pub just released their summer 2021 menu with loads of tasty new health options that feature some of the in-house products available from their shop, such as Snug relish, chilli, jam and various salads.

Fish and chips served on traditional newspaper wrap at Walsh's Snug, Newcastle Ontario

Walking by, you may have noticed that last year Walsh’s Snug, aka The Snug, expanded their on-street patio with more outdoor seating into the alley beside it. The Walsh’s, like so many small business owners, have had to be nimble and quick to adapt to the continually changing restrictions on both indoor and outdoor dining. The Snug has clearly gone above and beyond to adapt to these changes by creating the perfect outdoor space to enjoy a great meal, a few beverages, and of course, the excellent service provided by John, Leslie and their team of dedicated staff. Tucked away beside the pub, the team has spared no expense to make this space a great place to enjoy a meal with family or friends. This cozy and casual little pub is full of old-world charm both inside and out!

Over the most recent winter, the team stayed flexible and creative while public health measures restricted indoor dining. The pub rose to the challenge, expanding its takeout offering and introducing fun new options. For example, through a collaboration with Bowmanville’s Manantler Craft Brewing company, they co-launched a delicious milk stout-style beer to help recreate a traditional beer recipe from Ireland. You can still find this brew as a draught beer exclusively sold at Walsh’s Snug. If you like it, grab a bottle to go and pick up the matching t-shirt.

Photo of bottles of Scabby Leg Milk Stout collaboration brewed by Walsh's Snug and Manantler Brewing

If you are a fan of live music or are a regular at this establishment, you will know that part of how Walsh’s Snug has always created a welcoming environment is through excellent live music. Commendably, The Snug has continued to support local musicians throughout the pandemic. By rearranging their back room for musicians to set up alone, The Snug has continued to share the music of local artists through live performances that were then streamed via Facebook for anyone to tune in and enjoy.

While John and Leslie’s pub undoubtedly attracts many regulars, they further extend the sense of community through various group travel experiences. Those interested in an authentic travel experience can join John and a group of like-minded folks on an annual trip to Ireland. The last trip to Ireland was planned for May 2020 but was postponed due to travel restrictions. Several optimistic individuals are already booked to embark on the next journey, currently scheduled for September 2022.

Photo of the prepared foods fridge at Walsh's Snug, Newcastle, Ontario
During COVID-19 quarantine measures, Walsh’s Snug expanded its offering of homemade soups and other pantry items for patrons to enjoy at home.

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has faced many challenges and has had to make significant changes and shifts to how it conducts its business operations. Locals have marveled at how Walsh’s Snug has adapted to the challenges faced during the pandemic. John and Leslie’s many measures to meet these challenges, better serve their loyal guests, and form innovative partnerships with other local small businesses have not gone unnoticed. Let’s say you’re intrigued or already enjoy the Snug and want to bring some Irish products into your own home: check out their home pantry and other products for sale, including soda bread, meat pies, sausage rolls, quiche, desserts and more.

As restrictions lift and the province re-opens, make sure you check out more restaurants and small businesses in Newcastle and your local community. These small business owners have gone above and beyond to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable dining experience, and they can’t wait to welcome us all back.

NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region and the Province of Ontario are in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen; the Province’s three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures, based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of key public health and health care indicators. Residents are encouraged to follow health guidance when safely exploring their local communities, wash hands frequently, wear a mask and physically distance from others.