The Irish Show with Pat Troy
Pat Troy sips tea and milk out of a mug, calling himself a "teetotaler" since age 12.
"I have nothing, you know, against a drink," says the owner of Pat Troy's Restaurant and Pub on Alexandria's North Pitt Street. "But I make sure that people have a nice time. I will not and do not allow people getting cockeyed, and stuff like that.
"But 99 percent of the people have to have a drink to enjoy themselves and that's a fact."
In shirt sleeves, the boss jumps from his seat, flagging a waitress down to seat just-arrived diners.
"It's a new girl, she didn't know what I was talking about," he says. "I'm tense. When I don't see people being waited on, I just get upset."
"Eat your cheeseburger," he says in his bouncing lilt, "it's going to get cold. Our soda bread is homemade."
His cheerful voice pipes up and it's full of stories. He shaved his mustache to look "summerish."
He gets a faraway look and pauses. He opened this new place March 3, but only after a yearlong struggle.
Mr. Troy, 59, opened his first place in 1980, Ireland's Own, the Irish bar that helped make him an Old Town institution. The walls were plastered with patriotism, presidents and Pat Troy.
Facing new landlords and higher rent, Mr. Troy wanted to move the bar from North Royal Street, across from city hall, to a site on North Lee Street. The Alexandria City Council voted him down in February 1999. Politicos praised Mr. Troy, but saw parking and traffic as the problem.
Blarney, Mr. Troy says.
He ticks off his contributions to the city: He started a St. Patrick's Day Parade in a city founded by Scots. He also started the Irish Festival, which was held on Aug. 5 this year. "The thing that really hurt me [was] businesses never came to my aid," he says, except for Gadsby's Tavern Restaurant, Contact Courier and, ironically, Murphy's Grand Irish Pub, up the street. He also owns the 28-year-old Irish Walk on King Street, an Irish specialty shop run by his wife of 35 years, Bernadette, whom he credits for its success.
Mr. Troy says he brought in a lot of revenue for Alexandria, but never asked for anything.
"To my dying day, I'll never forget the people that voted against me," he says. "And the ones that voted for me, I'll never forget them."
The Rev. Stanley Krempa, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church for eight years, wrote the zoning commission in favor of Mr. Troy but stayed out of the fray.
"He said any kind of support would help so I did it," Father Krempa says from his new home, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Winchester, Va. "People talked about it but I wasn't part of that issue. It was not an issue in any way that divided parish life."
Mayor Kerry Donley, a fellow Irishman who voted against the move, admitted to "strained relations" for a month or so with Mr. Troy.
"All in all, everybody's actually happier than we would have had had the original application been approved," says Mr. Donley, also senior vice president at Virginia Commerce Bank, which helped Mr. Troy find the new spot and arrange financing.
"I think ultimately you would have had some upset neighbors down in Old Town, and, I think, a deal that was not financially sound," he says. "I'm focused on the future of Alexandria rather than fixated on the past."
Mr. Troy still calls Alexandria, and particularly its police, "a great city," but admits the experience "will never go away. …