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St. Patrick's Day big for restaurants, but it wasn't always that way

Posted at 1:54 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 14:54:16-04

MILWAUKEE — It's St. Patrick's Day, which means it's a big business day for bars and restaurants in Milwaukee and across the country.

Two years after the pandemic started, McBob's Pub and Grill in Milwaukee said they believe today's festivities will be more like pre-pandemic days.

"We’re expecting a really good turn out. Remember they closed us down two years ago, so we're anticipating fantastic crowds today," Steve Schmich, co-owner of McBob's said.

They have tons of food and drinks ready for what they believe will be thousands of people coming through their doors on Thursday.

"We’re anticipating going through our corned beef about 15, 16, 1,700 pounds with to go's and in-house," Schmich said.

As you might expect, there are also tons of Guinness, Harp, Smithwicks, and Irish liquors ready to be poured.

While much of America's focus is on the party aspect of the holiday, that's not how the tradition began. It started as a more solemn and religious holiday.

"People would go to church and they would get dressed up obviously. Go to mass. Come home. Have a nice traditional meal. Root vegetables or whatever they had," Corey Webster, the president of the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, said.

It was Americans who popularized the more party-esque celebration of St. Patrick’s day. Nonetheless, it’s a popular day to celebrate given the strong presence of Irish-Americans in the United States.

“I mean (in) Wisconsin alone I believe (the percentage of Irish-Americans is) 11 percent. Obviously, if you talk to anybody today, they are going to tell you they're Irish, so I would say it's probably going to be 150 percent today.”

In fact, one of the most popular sports in Ireland, hurling, also has a huge presence in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Hurling Club is one of the largest teams in the Midwest. It's kind of like a mix between soccer, football, rugby, and lacrosse. It's best if you just watch a highlight reel.

Like Webster said, a lot of people do say they have some Irish in them. Now there is a way you can find out about your ancestry. The Irish Cultural and Heritage Center has a free (donation based) genealogy review to determine your lineage and heritage.

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