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Claddagh: Ruining a Good Thing (As We Know It)

June 13, 2010
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Claddagh is facing an uncertain future as a destination for Columbus soccer fans as much of the staff, including General Manager Craig McConville no longer works there after a falling out with corporate management. McConville was central to Claddagh’s rise as a top spot for fans to catch a match, whether it started at 7 am or 10 pm and was well liked by the customers and staff alike.

The dispute stems from the massive England v. US party that Claddagh hosted yesterday. With interest in the game high, McConville and staff came up with the ideas to accommodate as many soccer mad fans as possible. This included opening well before the 7am Greece v. South Korea game. Arranging for a portable 14 foot wide screen to show the game in an adjoining park and bringing in grills and a beer truck to serve what would be a hungry and thirsty crowd. Triple the expected 1000 people showed up for the festivities.

As I understand the situation, a member Claddagh corporate management had no problems with the party, but was angry at what was seen as the lack of adequate preparation. Some of the issues I know about were related to the lack of staff to handle the event and not having enough beer trucks outside to serve the attendees. Understandable concerns given some of the lines, but the corporate manager chose to berate him in front of the other managers. I am not sure what was said, but it was apparently very harsh as McConville chose to walk out and much of the staff followed.

McConville has been instrumental in building Claddagh into a soccer destination. It’s the Crew’s away game headquarters through his work. He built a strong relationship with the Crew Supporters Union, becoming the supporters bar for CSU. John Clem of CSU spoke highly of McConville, “We had a perfect situation with Craig and the rest of the staff so it’s caught us all off guard.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked for another home given Craig and the rest of the Claddagh staff’s departure.

I am certainly not a neutral party. I have talked to Craig many times. The first time I met him, he turned on a Friday afternoon Bundesliga game for me. He even offered to call me with the final score, since I had to leave early. He is a nice guy with a mind for customer service. His staff speaks well of him, that’s impressive. He also gets what being a soccer bar means. He caters to the die hard customers willing to come in at 7am. The staff he assembled were friendly and accommodating to soccer fans. Patrons understood this too, it’s evident by the dozens of donated scarfs that line the walls.

Management and staff can certainly be replaced, but it will take a long time to rebuilt what was lost this weekend. Columbus probably lost the best soccer bar in town. I know many people that won’t be heading back without the staff that was vital to the atmosphere; I am certainly going to look elsewhere. Claddagh loses out on the ties to the soccer community in this town. Last but not least, the former staff of Claddagh don’t have jobs because they chose to stick together. It seems like such a big loss on what should have been a great day for soccer.

I have yet to hear back from the former Claddagh staff, but if I do, I will add it here.

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 5:23 am

    It’s more than a shame it had to end that way for Craig. I did see a massive crowd on Saturday, but it was a crowd that was not unruly and was very patient waiting in line for beer. When over 2,500 turn up wen 600 are expected, you are going to have serving and staff issues. Stuff happens. Like many others, I have no idea where to go for my soccer fix, but it will not be at Claddagh. I understand all the soccer memorabilia is going to be taken down, is this true?

  2. HardHatMike permalink
    June 14, 2010 6:59 am

    Ed,

    I know that the decent amount of memorabilia that I donated to the bar will reclaimed. I’m sure most others that made donations will do the same.

  3. June 14, 2010 7:13 am

    I watched the game in Claddagh on Saturday and while I have never seen such crowds, the staff were polite under pressure and never once let the bar down. I sat in the large room up the stairs to the right of the bar where one server worked the entire room and I heard nothing but compliments of her service and temperament.

    If ever there was a day when corporate decision makers should have been there with their sleeves rolled up instead of pointing fingers, maybe that was the day. In ant case, I hope the staff find alternative employment quickly locally.

    • robyn permalink
      June 14, 2010 9:17 am

      monty is now at fados, which has always been a great place to watch soccer. the hudson street hooligans just opened a bar, but if you’re not a member it will cost you a $5 dollar membership, though that’s a small price to pay. i’ve heard king avenue 5 will show matches, but i’ve never been there so i don’t know what the atmosphere is like. i applaud the claddagh staff for having such integrity and doing the right thing by walking out. they were a great staff that performed well under such high pressure. the fact that corporate had anything to say other than “good job” just blows my mind.

  4. LKS permalink
    June 14, 2010 9:19 am

    What a shame. Craig deserves better, and I hope he finds it.

  5. June 14, 2010 10:07 am

    Sam Fahmi of MassiveReport.com has posted some photos from the viewing party Saturday at Claddagh here: http://massivereport.com/category/image-galleries/06122010-usa-vs-england

  6. Reno permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:11 am

    What a shame, I was not there but to read this is heart breaking. Traveling from cincinnati every weekend and being treated like a regular was so welcoming. I know with out craig I will not be back, and I hope others do the same.

  7. June 14, 2010 10:41 am

    I am the owner of Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse in Clintonville. We also show the World Cup matches, every game and we were packed on Sat as well. Just wanted to give everyone another place to watch the games. We are located at 3055 Indianola Ave.

    • David Trame permalink
      June 15, 2010 11:40 am

      Studio 35 is definitely a great destination for movies or soccer, and I’d highly recommend it. They have somewhat of a partnership with Clintonville Pizza just down the block so you can get a pie delivered to you during a movie or a soccer match.

  8. Mike Brown permalink
    June 14, 2010 11:16 am

    Craig was a relentless advocate for the bar and soccer. He is among the best I’ve ever worked with in over a decade in Columbus doing hundreds of events. He truly understood the experience mattered and took personal responsibility for getting things done. Sounds like this was a overly successful day completely misread by corporate… but then that just reinforces why there are very few corporate bars I will go to. Craig should land well, and hopefully at a locally owned bar where the ownership cares about the patrons.

  9. Joanna permalink
    June 14, 2010 11:31 am

    Fado Irish Pub is my soccer bar. From the friendly atmosphere to the accomodating nature, I would recommend them to the new soccer fan as well as the seasoned pro. They also have a Crew supporters club and even have a bus from the pub to the stadium on gamedays.

  10. X Claddagh Fan permalink
    June 14, 2010 11:41 am

    I attended the Soccer Viewing Party on Saturday. I stopped by Sunday to see the results, (the lawn is spotless) I know the Staff there and I am a regular patron. I have been to hundreds of events over the years and I have managed personnel. While I can critique some finer points of the event, the staff performed admirably and the party was a success. For one of the Corporate Higher ups, who I understand had been drinking, to dress down an employee publicly, as well as in front of co-workers, is to me an offence that should have him terminated. Claddagh Irish Pub needs to offer a public apology for its actions, fire the Operations person and hope, HOPE, that The Columbus soccer fans can forgive this unprofessional behavior as a rouge agent that clearly overstepped his authority. I will not patronize Claddagh until this apology occurs and I urge other to do the same.

  11. June 14, 2010 12:37 pm

    I’m hopeful the situation can be rectified because this was the perfect situation and I say that from my individual perspective and that of one of the leaders of Crew Supporter’s Union. I’ve been getting questions about what CSU is planning to do now and I can honestly tell you I don’t know right now. We’re considering all our options, but also playing a bit of wait and see. With no away Crew game’s till July 10 (four weeks away) we have some flexibility.

    All that being said, Craig and the rest of the staff have our full support. They consistently went above and beyond and that shined through during the great viewing party thrown on Saturday.

    John Clem
    Crew Supporter’s Union President

  12. Stephen Mabe permalink
    June 14, 2010 12:38 pm

    I was at the bar Saturday and had a server in the back (dressed in army fatigues) who I have never seen work so hard for his clientele’s business. Even my friends who were first time people to the bar (I’m a regular) were completely shocked by the dedication of the staff to make sure everyone was adequately served in a decent time manner under the circumstances. The reason the crowd was 3x expected was because of Craig, not because of that bar. He is the testament to the local soccer culture that is exploding in Columbus, Ohio at this time period. I can only hope now that Craig will find some local investors and we can have our own “Lamar Hunt Pub”, for the fans, by the fans.

    I will not be back to Claddaugh. A real shame

  13. June 14, 2010 12:50 pm

    Check out a pic of the event at: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5708163&l=b7523173ef&id=761200521

  14. June 14, 2010 1:19 pm

    Cavan Irish Pub is just down the road shows all the big games on the big screen as well! The newly renovated patio is also very relaxing and a pleasant place to chat with friends. Twelve draughts on tap, many other crafts available, and don’t forget to order a fabulous pub pretzel for a snack!

  15. HaleyB permalink
    June 14, 2010 1:54 pm

    This Saturday was my first time visiting Claddagh to watch a game (I’d gone to Fado’s before for one or two), and I was so impressed with the staff’s attentiveness and welcoming spirit that I committed to make a point of going more often for more matches. The convivial nature of the backroom where I spent the game overcame the heat and the crowding – no one minded being a little uncomfortable because we all felt the camaraderie of the staff and the fans. it was a very well run event! I’m very sad to hear about the staffing changes and will think twice about my patronage.

  16. Carleen permalink
    June 14, 2010 1:59 pm

    It’s a real shame what happened on Saturday. Craig McConville is the reason the “big guys” are sitting back making loads of money. Too bad that’s about to end. Craig made the Claddagh the place to be. He put his heart and soul into his job and always put the customers first. He treated his fellow workers with appreciation and respect. How do the corporate managers thank him for all of his dedication and hard work – they totally belittle him, in front of co-workers and customers. The crowd attendance was far more than was anticipated. Did they ever think of getting up off their behinds to offer a hand – of course not. I guess that’s not in their job description. They were too busy sitting there watching the money roll in. Well, I hope they enjoyed their temporary success, because when Craig and the 85% of the staff walked out that day, the Claddagh we have all loved will be no more. I find it utterly disgraceful that management can treat their hard-working employees with such disrespect. I will never step foot in this establishment again and I urge others to do the same.

  17. Steve Bernhardt permalink
    June 14, 2010 2:29 pm

    I can only speak for myself and friends. Until Craig is offered an apology from the corporate douchebag, I will not be visiting either Claddagh location.

    Craig put that place on the map for soccer enthusiasts and threw the biggest viewing party in town. Can you honestly get cut down for having a party be too successful?

  18. June 14, 2010 2:56 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been informed that Claddagh did better business on Saturday than they’ve ever done for St. Patrick’s Day. I’d imagine it was one of the best days ever for the entire chain. Makes the whole thing more mind boggling.

  19. Berdawn permalink
    June 14, 2010 3:06 pm

    corporate douches got a big payday from this event but unless there is something quite dramatic on their part, they’ve gotten my last $.

  20. Michael permalink
    June 14, 2010 3:22 pm

    I watched the game on Saturday at a friend’s house. I work downtown though and was planning on heading down to Claddagh on Friday for the US v. Slovenia match. However, having read about the events on Saturday, count me in with the others who will not be returning to Claddagh until things are rectified. Despite the convenience of Claddagh being just down the street, I will find another place to watch the match on Friday.

    Please continue to post updates on this situation as you become aware of them. Thanks.

  21. June 14, 2010 4:09 pm

    Here’s the contact info for the Claddagh home office from their website:

    *CDG ACQUISITION LLC – Head Office
    29500 Aurora Road
    Suite 10
    Solon, Ohio 44139
    Phone (440)349-6400
    Fax (440)349-1876

    No email, but I’m sure they would appreciate your letters, phone calls and faxes providing insight into your thoughts.

  22. Marci permalink
    June 14, 2010 4:56 pm

    I am a former Claddagh patron now!!! I had nothing but good things to say about everyone who worked with or for Craig!!! He is on of the hardest working individuals that I know!!! He certainly did not deserve any of this!!! Nor did his staff & I have nothing but respect for them!!! They supported the man who had vision & knew how to get a job done while always keeping a smile on his face!! Craig you will be missed but as for me I will not be walking back into that place!!! Please let me know where you land at my dear friend!!

  23. BobbyBhoy permalink
    June 14, 2010 4:57 pm

    Sad stuff I’ll never go near the place….

  24. Jack Hoyt permalink
    June 14, 2010 7:48 pm

    This is a total crock. Claddagh’s never sees another penny from me and my friends. Craig was great at what he did and he and his staff should be commended on a great job. the fact that 2500 people showed up is due to Craig and his hard work promoting soccer in the community. I for one pity Claddagh’s corporate office because I will give them no rest

  25. June 14, 2010 9:40 pm

    It’s a shame that some idiot had to spoil things. I will not give another dollar to Claddagh. To say that Craig deserves a public apology is an understatement. Yes, he does. He and his staff were always on top of things. Kudos to all of them for doing their best 100% of the time. I am very curious to see where he goes now, it might end up being the next away venue for Crew supporters. “And where you go we’ll follow, we’ll follow, we’ll follow…”

  26. HEITHEM permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:21 pm

    Wow – I am shocked. This was a good soccer bar – the first official Crew away watching place that was an actual soccer pub. I wasn’t there, but what soccer bar wasn’t overwhelmed on Saturday?
    Even the tent at Crew Stadium was packed, hot, humid and had a long beer line! I remember when the preparations were going on for the US – Mexico World Cup qualifier and I asked Craig how he was going to handle the huge crowd that was filling the place over a day early . . . Craig he said he was sure he could handle it, that he wasn’t afraid of hard work, and that he never thought anything except the bigger the better and bring it on! And he handled it, yes he did. Were they a soccer pub before Craig? Nice way to treat a successful manager, huh?

  27. June 14, 2010 10:27 pm

    I knew Craig from playing music in the bar a few years back. He was always cool as hell and the staff was also always great. They treated us really well. The staff at all the Claddaghs were always great and they gave us great opportunities to play music there, the only thing that always sucked was corporate. One of the managers at Polaris I believe got let go…and he cared SO much about his job. Other staff would get let go here and there too and the corporate people were always trying to change things even though they were doing a great job. The guy that owns Claddagh owns one of the biggest fast food joints in Ireland called Supermac’s….makes sense why he’s such a …well. ya know. Look it up here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermac%27s

  28. Michael Saad permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:33 pm

    It is comical to think that Claddagh corporate management may even have a thought of trying to keep this place afloat w/o Craig and his staff, and the offerings of soccer to the (formerly) loyal patrons. The Brewery District has long been dying, and there is no desire for people to head down there minus the warm soccer-loving hospitality they received from Craig. Without the support of the Crew Union, Columbus Crew, and Craig, this place’s days are surely numbered. I, too, will follow Craig wherever he goes.

  29. Yobine permalink
    June 15, 2010 9:56 am

    I think we should flood corporate, and basically every email/contact number we find. This place went from over priced irish novalty chain to a warm welcoming hang out. Thanks to Craig and the wonderful staff he put together. With out him (on these terms) I hope it fails, they certainly will lose my buisness. I have found this email Columbus@CladdaghIrishPubs.com, I do not know were exactly or who it will reach (if anyone). But I have deffinately emailed my opinion and will call the number provided above, I cannot imagine as an owner of business sitting back and reading comments like these and not acting. Best wishes for Craig, were he goes I will follow.

  30. June 15, 2010 12:05 pm

    Craig’s posted a comment in the article published today: https://anamericangame.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/the-grisly-details/#comment-672

  31. David permalink
    June 15, 2010 8:17 pm

    I’ll be the bad apple. I’d like to hear what management has to say before I judge Claddagh. We all get berated by our bosses once in a while. No one likes it and its rarely deserved. With that in mind, I find it a bit amateurish and immature to quit one’s job over a tongue lashing from the boss. I suspect that tempers were running high over that unexpected crowd. Sounds like everyone involved handled this poorly. Since Craig wasn’t fired, I’ll be back to Claddagh. Sounds like I’ll have more leg room and more beer given the comments above.

    • June 16, 2010 7:43 am

      That is certainly one way of looking at it. It is a nice setup to watch a game, but I enjoyed myself far more as it became a more popular place to watch a game. Without those crowds and the staff that built it, I just don’t see myself going there.

  32. mersh permalink
    June 15, 2010 11:34 pm

    David- are you sure you aren’t a sneeky claddagh corporate fuck?

  33. Tina permalink
    June 16, 2010 12:11 am

    Before calling corporate, I’ll be getting a better estimate of the embarrassing amount of money we’ve spent at Claddagh over the past several years. Suffice it to say that the last 2 years, my husband and I bought $500 worth of gift cards (w/$100 bonus) each time they had their pre-Christmas promotion. Each of the past 2 years, these have been spent within about 3 months. ‘Nuff said.
    In any case, there are plenty of other places for us to spend money, and I’d rather find a place that consistently rewards the kind of drive and initiative shown by Craig, Monty, and the whole staff. Goodbye, Claddagh.

    By the way, I wouldn’t normally ask, but was that corporate douchebag’s name David?

  34. mersh permalink
    June 16, 2010 9:13 am

    No his name is not David. It just really looks like someone decided to call themselves David to get a point across.

  35. June 16, 2010 9:46 am

    There will be an event Sunday evening at Jimmy V’s celebrating the staff at Claddagh that we’ve come to know over the years.

    Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121990921176395

    This event is to thank our friends formerly of Claddagh Irish Pub for their hard work and dedication. The management and staff of Claddagh made for a warm and welcoming place for everyone that walked through the door. Join us for this celebration to thank those who have served us throughout the years and wish them good luck in all their future endeavors!

  36. WTF permalink
    June 16, 2010 11:35 am

    This sucks! This was by far the best place to watch soccer that I have ever been to. Now that the great staff is gone and there will be no soccer like atmosphere and more than likely will crumble.

    I will never set foot in a claddagh again for the simple fact that someone higher up ruined a good thing. How the fuck can you be upset about an event that brought more people than expected? Sure staffing was a little short but it happens everywhere. Congrats claddagh you just lost a guy who brought an event to you’re bar that you can never duplicate again!

  37. David permalink
    June 16, 2010 8:47 pm

    My name is David and I don’t work for or with Claddagh. Just reading the comments and expressing a POV. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. But as someone that works in management (in an office), I know how easy it is to throw stones as the boss and the big evil corporation. Sometimes it’s justified, often times it’s not. There are always two points of view and I’m not going to accept one side as gospel without hearing the counter.

    • Carleen permalink
      June 16, 2010 11:42 pm

      Who gives a shit who you are, where you work and what you will accept? No one. You expressed your point of view now get lost. If you even knew Craig and what he sacrificed of himself for the benefit of this company, you might have a different attitude. Although, with your kiss-ass attitude, you will probably move right up that corporate ladder. Just be careful you don’t fall off – it hurts like hell when you hit the bottom.

      • David permalink
        June 17, 2010 5:57 am

        I was just responding to the comments ablove. Your anger doesn’t create any sympathy for you or your cause to help a guy that quit his job because his employer said mean things to him.

  38. Taylor permalink
    June 16, 2010 10:08 pm

    It seems difficult enough for bars to survive in the Brewery District (yes, ironic). I wonder if this fiasco could be a deathblow to a once popular bar.

    • June 17, 2010 1:21 pm

      I think they’ll have a decent crowd tomorrow for the US match, but without all the regulars and Crew Union the crowds will dwindle quickly.

  39. Kevin permalink
    June 17, 2010 1:31 pm

    Looks like Claddagh has also “cleansed” their Facebook page. All of the negative comments have been deleted.

    Someone posted the word “Lame” on the page yesterday, I gave it a thumbs up and was immediately un-friended. I guess that’s their corporate response.

  40. BobbyBhoy permalink
    June 17, 2010 4:06 pm

    From the story I got, I think the fact the guys not digesting his teeth right shows Craig handled it the right way.

  41. June 20, 2010 4:45 am

    Studio 35 is real good…

  42. Lori permalink
    June 21, 2010 2:19 pm

    Not only was Craig a soccer supporter but a supporter of the Irish community in Central Ohio. Through Craig, Cladduagh supported the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Daughters of Erin Irish Breakfast, and other Irish events through out the year. Craig will surely be missed by the Irish Community!

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