Kildare's West Chester under new ownership
● By J. Chambless
On Monday, July 13, proprietorship of Kildare’s West Chester switched hands.
The pub on West Gay Street -- the flagship restaurant of the Kildare’s brand formerly owned by Dave Magrogan Group -- now belongs to longstanding operator, Dane Gray, and his business partner, Tom Farnesi.
Gray met Magrogan in 2003 while working as the manager and head concierge of the Morrison Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Impressed by his hospitality, Magrogan invited Gray to join his team in the U.S.
Gray helped open Kildare’s Manayunk and then transferred to the West Chester location where he was promoted to general manager in 2006. During the last four years, he has served as director of operations for up to seven Kildare’s locations in four states.
Toward the end of 2012, Gray approached his friend, Tom Farnesi -- a longtime West Chester businessman and owner of Penn Street Mortgage in the borough -- about purchasing a place of their own. Armed with Gray’s zeal for the business and Farnesi's reputation and strong relationships in the community, they began their search. All roads led back to Kildare’s West Chester.
“It’s a beautiful establishment in a beautiful town,” said Gray. “Having spent so many years in Ireland, I truly appreciate the time that was put into the aesthetics of the space. Every day as soon as I walk into Kildare’s I’m transported back to Ireland. I really feel at home within these walls.”
As owner of the pub, Gray intends to focus his efforts on doing everything (front and back of house) better to improve the overall guest experience. He also plans to help the facility reach its highest visual potential. Outside of the pub, Gray, a Chester County resident, is looking forward to becoming more involved in the community, and further supporting local companies, organizations and charities.
“A prominent business in the heart of town has to be more than just a business,” said Gray. “I can’t wait to explore the possibilities.”
In the kitchen, Gray’s wife of eight years, Stephanie, will return to the helm of the culinary program. A CIA graduate, Stephanie was the first person hired by Kildare’s as chef and continued to work for DMG in various capacities while caring for the couple’s two young boys, Darragh and Oliver, over the last 12 years.
“I’m really excited to let my creativity run free again,” said Stephanie. “We’re going to elevate the sophistication of the menu to a level that West Chester diners will truly appreciate.” The team is simultaneously working to enhance craft drink offerings. One thing that will remain constant: the 26-tap selection of ever-evolving drafts, and perfectly poured Guinness pints.
On Thursday, July 30 from 5 to 7 p.m., Gray and Farnesi invite all friends of the pub to help celebrate their new ownership with complimentary appetizers and a craft beer created by Gray (while supplies last) at the bar.