Business of the Month: Cassidy’s Irish Pub - Marina Arts District in Corpus Christi, TX
Mar 12, 2019
By: Alexandra Scott
Cassidy’s Irish Pub. If you know, you know. If you don’t, you should definitely stop by. When I walk at 4:30 on a Monday afternoon with my best friend, who also happens to be a bartender at this wonderful establishment, we are greeted by a lively and lovely group of regulars. Some of them who have been caught up in the busyness that is life, have come by this afternoon just to tell me all they love about Cassidy’s. Others are just there for their typical after-work drink and conversation. That’s one of the things people love about the only legitimate Irish pub in Corpus Christi.
Les Cassidy, the original owner and operator of Cassidy’s, moved to Corpus Christi from Houston in 1985. In early 2000, his brother Patrick took him to a bar in Houston named “Slainte”. It was here that he learned of a program developed by Guinness to create a pub in every major city across the world. The program is called Irish Pub Concept and it still in existence today. His idea to open a pub came from learning, a family reunion later in 2000, that his family immigrated from Donegal, Ireland to Georgia in 1885. It was here that his great-grandfather opened a tavern called “Cassidy’s Corner”. In keeping with tradition, it was Les’ vision to open an authentic Irish pub in Corpus and he settled on a little corner of Water and Peoples Streets in Downtown Corpus Christi. Mr. Cassidy even met with a pub design group out of Dublin, Gemmel, Griffin & Dunbar, to make sure the pub had the most authentic feel. The bar and most of the furniture you see standing today was all imported from Ireland. After close to two years and meetings, designs and bar tending classes at Del Mar College, Cassidy’s Irish Pub Opened up on St. Patrick’s Day in March of 2002.
The Corpus staple, whose walls are adorned with framed photos and quotes of well-known Irish folk, has had it’s ups and downs through the years, according to current owner Mike Treiber. Treiber, a Corpus native who graduated from Carroll High School in 2000, worked his way up from bartender to management before becoming a partner with Les Cassidy 10 years ago. Then, after 15 years, Les sold his interest to Mike making him the sole owner. His vision for the pub is quite similar to Les’. He wants it to be a place where locals and visitors alike can feel at home. You won’t find but one television in the establishment as a way to get people to converse and make connections with people they would not otherwise meet. He recently signed a 15-year lease and is eager to make some façade improvements, including a wrap around patio, but he will never add another TV.
The regulars at the bar are inclined to agree with them. More than one mentioned to me that if you go to a traditional pub in Ireland, you won’t find the walls lined with screens distracting it’s patrons but instead you’ll find those patrons interacting and having conversations with each other. Rudy Elizondo (pictured below with owner Mike Treiber), the first ever Irishman of the Year (a yearly award they give to one man or woman before the St. Patrick’s Day Block Party), said that he wouldn’t know some of his favorite people if not for the pub. Rudy stumbled into the pub 11 or so years ago while wanting to avoid rather “boring” wedding reception held in the Downtown Corpus Christi Hotel. He heard music coming from Cassidy’s and convinced his friends to go in with him. He happened to know a bartender who introduced him to some of the people at the bar and the rest is history. Elizondo’s story is not uncommon when it comes to Cassidy’s. In fact, it’s not too different from my own. I became a regular at Cassidy’s after befriending Casey Ortiz, a current bartender whose favorite part of Cassidy’s is the traditional décor at Christmas. After visiting her at the pub a couple times, I came to know some of the other regulars and when I walked in a few weeks ago to conduct my interview with Mike and others, I was greeted with a friendly faces and a warm “Alex!”.
For those who are still unsure of Cassidy’s, it is easily and overwhelmingly described by Casey, Rudy, Mike and even last year’s first ever Irishwoman of the Year, Amy Griffin as “homey” and “comfortable”. These people, from bartenders and the owner to the regulars and strangers coming in off the street are what make it feel like a home away from home. In fact, while I was there conducting interviews, a regular called the pub phone to let everyone who was parked out front know they were about to get parking tickets. So it’s safe to say, the Cassidy’s family has each other’s backs. There is even a running joke that the Irishman of the year is just “whoever pays the light bill”.
If all of this has you itching to see what Cassidy’s is like, make sure you stop by the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Block Party on Saturday, March 16th and get a feel for the place. I will warn you, it gets pretty busy. So if you’re in the mood for something a little more low-key, stop by any day after 4 pm and you’ll be greeted with warm smiles, infectious laughter and interesting conversation. You might even end up like the two friends who became friends after recognizing each other Irish accents at the bar and realizing they grew up a few towns away from each other in Ireland. In fact, I met my best friend there too!