Hoover residents Eileen and George McCluney ventured into the world of restaurant ownership in 2010, when they opened Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at The Grove. Seven years later, they opened their second location of the restaurant chain in Helena. When they became empty nesters, the McCluneys looked to family history and fine dining when opening their third eatery, Farrelly’s Southern Bar & Kitchen at 5542 Grove Boulevard. We sat down with Eileen and George at Farrelly’s to talk about food, family and bringing a new signature restaurant to the city.
George, how did you get into the restaurant business?
It was really just by fluke more than anything. I really wanted to change careers after being in banking for 10 years. In the back of my mind, I knew I really wanted to be in the hospitality industry. We liked the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s concept after visiting a Florida location and looked into their franchise opportunities. After hearing the news that The Grove would be a new shopping location built near us, we both thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make that move.
You have two Beef’s locations, one in Hoover and one in Helena. Was three restaurants the charm?
We thought this was it for us – our two locations for the Beef’s franchise – and we were good, until we became empty nesters. We found out that the building previously occupied by The Boot at the Grove would be available, and we just could not see letting that beautiful building go to some nameless national company. This area of Hoover has many drive-through dining options, family-centric options, but it was lacking a nice sit-down signature restaurant. We wanted to do something that was more upscale. This community, with the growth of the new neighborhoods, young families and professionals, was ready for a dining experience of this level.
Eileen, you and George chose Farrelly’s as the name for the new restaurant. What is the story behind the name?
Farrelly is my mother Kathleen’s maiden name. She was in the hospitality business from the time she came to the United States from Co. Meath, Ireland, in the 1950s and lived in New York. She had a passion for the restaurant industry. In those days you had to have a sponsor to immigrate, so her aunt and uncle who lived in the Bronx sponsored both my mother and her sister. They would make money to send to the family at home in Ireland, and the easiest way to do that was working in the restaurant industry. She met my dad there – a New Yorker. He was in the Air Force. So wherever they were stationed, she would work in local restaurants. She passed away in 2005.
What are your three favorite dishes on Farrelly’s menu?
We have two chefs, Chef Daniel Jeffreys and Chef Sean Martin, who both came to us from Cafe Dupont. They came together and wanted to work together in their next restaurant. They were so unique and hit the contemporary Southern cuisine we wanted. We love all their dishes. The three we would pick would be: Grilled salmon served with butternut squash purée, roasted root vegetables and brown butter-bacon vinaigrette; Wagyu meatloaf served with lima beans, roasted brussels sprouts and our house “bbq” sauce; and our Craft Burger, made with Wagyu beef and served with sharp cheddar, grilled onion, house pickles, lettuce and dijonnaise on a brioche bun.
How do you hope to impact Hoover in the years to come with your businesses?
Our goal with Beef’s is to always have a very family-friendly environment and be involved in the community with local sports and fundraising. Our ultimate goal for both restaurants is for people to feel welcome and have a wonderful meal. The food is secondary if they do not feel at home and have a great time.
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Find Farrelly’s at Farrellyskitchen.com and on social media @FarrellysSouthernKitchen
Hours are Monday-Saturday, 4-10 p.m.