Fort McMurray's favourite local pub Paddy McSwiggins is getting ready to serve up pints, wings and good times with Gareth Norris.
Paddy McSwiggins has been the quintessential local pub here in Fort McMurray for the past twenty years.
Paddy's is currently undergoing some major renovations organized by Billy Martin and some fifteen local businesses that have donated time and materials to help Paddy McSwiggins' owner Gareth Norris get the doors to this beloved pub open.
Gareth has assured me that they haven't changed the recipe to their famous wings and will have plenty available on opening day.
MM: Are you originally from Fort McMurray or like so many of us, moved here from else ware?
Gareth: Originally born in the UK Cardiff in Wales; my parents immigrated in 1982 and I've been here since. Fort McMurray has been home since I was 14.
MM: Did you always know you wanted to own a Pub?
Gareth: No idea, I grew up in the pub trade my parents had pubs in the UK; so I guess maybe it is in my blood. I just felt Fort McMurray was missing that authentic pub atmosphere; the opportunity arose and I took it.
MM: How long was Paddy McSwiggins in business prior to the 2016 Forest fire?
Gareth: Eighteen years; so this past October was our twenty year anniversary, two years we were, of course, closed because of the fire.
MM: Now you're in the process of reopening do you have a set date we can look forward to?
Gareth: It's very fluid, there's no pressure. I have surgery April 30th in Calgary so I'd like to know we were open before then. The running joke with the guys is if I die on the operating table I'll come back and haunt them.
MM: Is there anything new we can look forward to?
Gareth: It's a different layout, we have snugs now which gives a very traditional pub feel. There a bit hard to explain but they're like a booth that's enclosed with an open front. We have seven snugs in the pub now we have them set up for sponsorship so you can have one named after your company.
MM: You've had a bit of a hard time opening up the pub after the fire can you tell me a little bit about your experience?
Gareth: We got financing for about 60 percent of the build and we're struggling to come up with the other 40 percent. We've been paying commercial rent on an empty building for two years. That's when Billy Martin approached me and said I have guys that are willing to help and provide materials.
MM: The fire obviously put you back and was not expected by anybody; but are there any other struggles you've found having a business in Fort McMurray?
Gareth: There is always the cost of doing business in Fort McMurray, the argument is everyone makes more money here but that's not necessarily true. Most businesses that are independent are a bit of a luxury item you don't have to come to Paddys and have a pint, you can buy a bottle of beer and go home. So a lot of the small businesses here offer services that are one of the first things to come out of your budget when things get tight; that's where we see the struggles.
MM: What are some things your really proud of with your business?
Gareth: I have to say I really do love Fort McMurray, it has given me more opportunity than anywhere else in the world could. This is definitely the land of opportunity if you're not afraid of hard work and risk, this town will make you.
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