Barperson of the Month
They say that if you love what you do, then it doesn’t feel like work. Just ask Newcastle’s Niall Carlin…
Niall Carlin (36), is a man happy at his work. For the last 15 years he’s looked after things behind the bar at O’Hare’s popular lounge bars in Newcastle, the last 10 of those as manager of the venues.
And he loves his job. Niall says that a genuine family atmosphere combines with the sheer liveliness of O’Hare’s to keep the job fresh and engaging.
Niall, who comes originally from the seaside town, began his career with Hastings Hotels. When he was 17, he took on general front-of-house duties at the Percy French restaurant in the grounds of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in the town where he stayed for around a year before embarking on a government-sponsored scheme that took him to the States and work experience with the Jury’s hotel chain.
“We were working on the food side of things and it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all,” recalls Niall. “It just wasn’t the dream that was sold to us and of the 92 people who went from here, think 91 of them ended up coming home again.”
Niall returned to his post at the Percy French, but a short time later, he departed for Liverpool with a group of friends where he took on the role of duty manager at a Wetherspoon’s outlet in the city.
He stayed there for a year before returning to Newcastle and a post behind the bar at O’Hare’s, where he has been ever since:
“I just love the place,” he says. “One of the biggest things about working here is the atmosphere, it feels like a real extended family, it’s a great place to work and most of our staff have been with us for at least five years.”
The venue belonged to the late Turlough O’Hare and his wife, Paulene, but these days, their son, Jack, looks after the business.
“This place is lively all the time,” says Niall. “We have live music Thursday to Sunday and we aim at the 28+ age group, so it’s an older crowd that we get.”
Like venues up and down the country, O’Hare’s has latched on to the burgeoning demand among consumers for premium products and variety. A cocktail bar was opened about two years ago and Niall says demand since then has been “crazy”:
“We are constantly changing our menus so that people have a reason to come back, but gin really is the drink most in demand at the minute,” he says.
“Working with cocktails is something that I first learned about when I worked for Hastings Hotels years ago and at that time, I would have been involved in the competitions scene,” says Niall. “Now, I’m involved in putting the cocktail lists together at O’Hare’s and in Newcastle, we find that people mostly look for long, cool-type drinks, we do lots of frozen cocktails and I think local fruit and veg suppliers must be over the moon with demand for their products as a result.”
Niall, who lives in Newcastle with his wife and children, says he’s “not going anywhere soon”:
“I love it here,” he says. “I was married about five years ago and we even had our reception here in the bar.
“My priorities now are customer enjoyment, making sure that everything is right and making sure that the customer experience is enough to keep people coming back, from the drinks offering and staff to the service and the music.”
Niall does admit though that if the right opportunity did present itself, he wouldn’t mind a crack at looking after his own place:
“I think that would be the idea long term, but I’ve no grand plans,” he tells LCN “I just take each day as it comes, I’m not really one for stressing or worrying too much about things.”
F*Kin Coole Espresso
30ml Kin Toffee Vodka
20ml Coole Swan
10ml Giffard Creme de Cacao
75ml Fresh Espresso
Hard shake the ingredients in a Boston filled with ice, double strain it into a chilled Martini glass garnished with a sprinkle of coffee and three coffee beans. Enjoy!