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