Putting An Accent On Boston Hospitality
Paul Wilson is general operations manager for the Glynn Hospitality Group, a family owned business that runs some of Boston’s favorite pubs and restaurants, including the Black Rose, Purple Shamrock, Clerys, Coogan’s, Hurricane O’Reilly’s, Jose McIntyre’s, Brownstown and Dillons.
You were born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. What brought you to Boston?
I first came to Boston in the summer of 1987on a J1 visa. I worked at the Landmark Inn Restaurant (now McCormick & Schmicks) in Faneuil Hall and the Purple Shamrock. Then I went home for a period of time and worked at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin.
In 1992, my wife Catherine and I were fortunate to win Morrison Visas (a visa for Irish immigrants, sponsored by US Congressman Bruce Morrison), and we returned to Boston.
How did you end up in hospitality?
I always had an interest in hospitality, even helping my mother with cooking as a kid growing up in Dublin. I had an adventurous palate and would order menu items that stood out as not your typical offerings and then tried to replicate them at home, with some interesting outcomes.
When I returned to Boston in 1992, I worked as a line cook and bartender for Glynn Hospitality. With six locations at the time there was plenty of opportunity for growth and I worked my way up the ladder to manage Chadwick Park (Now Howl at the Moon) on High Street. I went on to open Jose McIntyre’s, Coogan’s, Brownstone, Hurricane O’Reilly’s and Dillon’s.
In a city full of Irish pubs, the Black Rose has been a favorite for tourists and locals for 35 years. What is so special about the Rose?
It’s a place where customers of all ages are welcomed and made feel part of the craic (Irish for good times). Families with young kids and college students mingle with grandparents on a daily basis from all over the world.
Plus, we’ve had live Irish entertainment seven nights a week every night except for Christmas Eve and the night of 9/11/2001.
You’ve seen a lot of personalities coming into the Rose over the years. Who stands out?
Let’s see. U2 performed on stage back in the late 1980s when it was still an unknown band from Dublin. Actor Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in Dallas), filmed a TV show here. Phil Lynott, lead singer of Thin Lizzy, dated one of the waitresses here and rumor has it that’s how their album The Black Rose got its name.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York was kicked out for dancing on tables.
One night that stands out was when singer John Denver sat at the bar sipping a few pints chatting with customers and then got up on stage and sang for about a half hour. The place went crazy.
The Black Rose has a great dining area on the second floor. What are some of the favorites on the menu?
We offer lobster specials daily, and have won numerous awards for our clam chowder. We sell more fish & chips than any other restaurant, and have purchased fresh local scrod from the same vendor for 35 years. I will put our fish and chips up against any other restaurant in the city.
Irish specials include beef stew, corned beef & cabbage and smoked salmon. We have wonderful bangers and mash; we use a recipe on our bangers from master chef Kevin Dundon. On weekends we offer a full Irish breakfast with rashers, sausages, black & white pudding that are delivered fresh weekly.
Our kitchen staff does a fantastic job at producing great dishes. We work hard with suppliers to bring the best quality Irish products to our customers, as well as fresh local seafood and prime meats.
I see a British pub recently broke the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s largest fish & chips, which the Black Rose set in 2004. Do you have any plans to reclaim that record?
We held that record for seven years, and it will be a hard record to win back. The hardest part is trying to find the right piece of fish. We would have to find one piece of filleted fish weighing in excess of 45 pounds and then you have to construct a special fryer to cook the fish in. If anyone comes across the piece of fish let us know and we will give it another try.
by Michael P. Quinlin