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5199 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. #608
Post Office Box 15679
Long Beach California, 90815-0679
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Feature Stories

Red Leprechaun Toasts 1st Anniversary

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 12
6/14/2013


By Kirt Ramirez

Ames and business partner Mark Truzzolino share a moment together.

Tracy Ames used to work as director of operations for a hotel software company until she was laid off in 2009.

After some soul-searching, Ames decided to start her own business – the Red Leprechaun Irish-American pub – now nestled at the corner of Anaheim Street and Termino Avenue.

To make her dream come true, she took out a loan.

“I borrowed money using my house as collateral since the bank only approved half the amount needed to open the business,” said Ames, who lives in the Rose Park area of Long Beach and whose grandparents came to America from County Cork Ireland in the early 1900s. “I am the only owner and my family and friends invested in the business, and helped paint, re-do old furniture, reupholster and clean.”

Ames and her crew could be seen working hard converting the former retail store – which before that was a Blockbuster video – into a chic creation with elegant décor.

Today customers flow in and out of the upscale restaurant that added a touch of class to that intersection. Her leprechaun turns one year old July 13.

Before opening, nearby residents received a public notice that the establishment would serve alcohol. Some assumed it would be a bar and did not like the idea. However, it turned out the place would become an old-world eatery serving exotic entrees in a quaint, fixed-up location where California wines and hand craft beers would be available.

Martha Forero – who owns and runs a nearby sober living home – initially worried about the presumed “bar” coming to town, but today she is happy.

“I like it, I was there twice,” she said. “They have proved to me that they care about the neighborhood and about peace and quiet. They have contained the business inside the business.”

Ames stayed true to her word.

“I sat in the living rooms of my neighbors and was very honest and up front on the type of business we were building, we would not be a bar,” she said. “A neighborhood pub was family friendly, kids can sit anywhere in the pub, we would have live Irish folk music and it goes until 10 and we would not be open late.”

Ames said she chooses not to have a television set so that patrons can focus on conversation and their time with one another.

Green paint colors complement the brown hues of the wooden furniture and fixtures. Framed artwork hangs on walls and a tin knight stands guard. Ceiling fans and glowing lights add coziness. You would never know it, but Ames decorated the inside with furnishings from Craigslist.

For fun, Ames will add golden lettering to the outside one by one over time. Customers can buy a letter to help speed up the process. Eventually the extra signage will read “The Red Leprechaun.” As of June 10 it reads “T e Red L c a n.”

“We hope to have the sign on Anaheim Street by the end of summer,” she said of the game.

Meanwhile, Chef Zaul Hernandez prepares fresh food daily as a staff of 12 comes together as a team, including a business partner, Mark Truzzolino, who helps select unique craft beers weekly from local breweries.

Celtic cuisine menu items include appetizers such as “veggie countryside flat bread” hot from the oven with goat cheese, white sauce, mushroom and garlic roasted tomatoes. The “Irish nachos” of potato wedges topped with steak, melted Irish cheddar and jalapeno sauce pleases. And the crab cakes are delicate and full of flavor.

Entrees include “rosemary roasted chicken” with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. The “Shepherd’s pie” item has ground beef, vegetables, cottage gravy and topped with the signature mashed potatoes. They also have “pan roasted New York steak,” “maple glazed salmon filet,” “spicy sausage and mash,” as well as burgers, sandwiches, salads and others.

Breakfast is served only on weekends and includes “pub scrambles,” omelets, “red’s corned beef hash,” “French toast-bread pudding” with cream and candied walnuts and other tasty meals. For a full menu, visit www.redleprechaun.com.

Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell – whose 4th District includes the restaurant – has raved about the Irish pub during council meetings.

“The Red Leprechaun is a unique family-style restaurant that has been welcomed and enjoyed by the surrounding community, including myself. I have seen this business grow from the start and I am happy to see Tracy and her staff succeed in their efforts,” O’Donnell told the Beachcomber.

The Red Leprechaun is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4 -10 p.m. Friday 3-10 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.

kirt@longbeachcomber.com