Three Friends and A Texish Bar — An Irish Texas Smash-Up
Mahoney’s now marks McConnell’s 8th restaurant ownership, and as a doting father he’s proud of his new Irish-Texan spawn, but admittedly very “helicopter” about it.
Today, The Woodlander got “Texish” at Mahoney’s Texas Irish smash-up bar and restaurant at Waterway Square. Owned by three life-long Woodlands hometown best friends, Shaun McConnell, Kelly Mahoney and Pat Perugini, these old McCullough pals make you feel like family the moment you walk in the door.
Only open since May, this Waterway newbie has already earned praises from The Woodlands foodies jettisoning the word “Texish” into the community vernacular.
At the helm of this restauranteur trio, McConnell brings his experience as the owner of Irish Kevin’s Bar in Key West, Florida to his oil and gas executive best friends and investors and our town.
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, McConnell moved to The Woodlands in 1978 with his parents when the population was a mere 10,000 people. After quarterbacking at McCullough High School in the late eighties, he continued to play ball for the University of Houston and later Sam Houston State. After school, he worked for the Carrabba’s Italian restaurant group quickly moving up the management ladder and opening the Carrabba’s FM 1960 location. Subsequently, for several years he managed Sam’s Boat in Houston where he met his wife, Lisa Burbage, who was the matchmaker between Perugini and his wife, Julie Cobb.
McConnell’s experience led him to various places across the country and into restaurant ownership. Mahoney’s now marks his 8th restaurant ownership, and like a doting father he’s proud of his new Irish-Texan spawn, but admittedly very “helicopter” about it. During our interview, he proceeded to reposition bar stools at certain angles, dole out bar coasters, make notes about paint touch-ups and hide highchairs all while chatting about how he’s eager to build another patio area to capitalize on the outdoor beauty of Waterway Square.
Mahoney’s origin story begins with Mahoney and Perugini’s quest to invest in something fun — something they could be hands-on with so when the perfect Waterway Square restaurant space became available, they called McConnell who was happy to return home and accept the challenge of building a new concept bar and brand with his buddies.
“We’re so lucky to have such strong old friendships, and now we also have strong new friendships with our Mahoney’s team too,” says McConnell. “Our chef, Bryan McSwain, grew up in The Woodlands, trained and cooked in Scotland and Ireland and most recently worked with PF Changs.”
Favorite Mahoney’s dishes are quickly emerging, including the spicy jalapeño crisp wontons, fish and chips, grilled Atlantic salmon and the chef’s signature McSwain Burger. Daily specials like Thursday’s T-bone steak for $18.36 (the year of Texas independence) paired with live music and a killer wine list, have dining customers coming back for more.
Mahoney’s is managed by Jade Garcia who came from Tailgators Pub & Grill.
“Right out of the gate, her nickname was ‘the hammer.’ She runs a tight ship. So tight, I am able to leave. She’s got this!” laughs McConnell.
The elegant interior designed by Jodi Eliason, delicious pub grub and nightly live music will no doubt capture your attention, but the 54 bottle Jameson Irish whiskey chandelier is a fun reminder that Mahoney’s is first and foremost a bar. Currently, the blueberry mojito and the Texas Sunset are the most popular drinks beating out classic Irish stouts and Texas brews!
McConnell still can’t believe how much The Woodlands has grown in the short time he lived out of state. He’s grateful for his friendships and partnership with Mahoney and Perugini in his first-ever Texas restaurant.
“What I love about my hometown is how many people, like me, have decided to come back and raise their families here,” smiles McConnell. “We see a lot of old friends, ‘ghosts’ as we call them, here at the bar and toast to old times!”
As Shaun McConnell dashes out Mahoney’s front door to catch a flight back to Florida to check-in on Irish Kevin’s Bar and Kelly Mahoney and Pat Perugini arrive with their families for dinner, The Woodlander salutes this Highlander trio and sends best wishes for continued success!