McMullan’s Irish Pub, 4650 W. Tropicana Ave., is a little slice of Ireland in Spring Valley.
The tables, chairs, bars and light fixtures were imported from Ireland. The newspaper clippings, black-and-white photos and knickknacks are family heirlooms.
“We try to make it an authentic pub,” owner Brian McMullan said. “Some people say the only way to have an authentic Irish pub is to be in Ireland, but by importing everything, I have the next best thing.”
McMullan’s grandfather, Thomas McMullan, opened the family’s first pub in Glenarm, Ireland, in 1908. For 780 pounds (about $1,300 then or about $30,000 now adjusted for inflation), he purchased the Farmer’s Hotel from Thomas Charles, along with Charles’ horses and undertaking business.
“He purchased the hotel and changed it to McMullan’s,” McMullan said. “It was very small, but it was part of the hotel so they had rooms and other things.”
When Thomas McMullan died in 1934, the pub was passed on to McMullan’s uncle Jim.
“My father was born in the pub, basically. They lived above it,” McMullan said. “When my uncle took over, everyone had to clear out because he brought his wife home.”
Looking for work, McMullan’s father emigrated to South Africa, where McMullan was born and raised.
Although the original McMullan’s is still standing, the family no longer owns it.
“It’s still there, but its name was changed to Coast Road Inn,” McMullan said. “My aunt and cousin took it over for three years after my uncle’s death, but it was very hard work.”
When McMullan was 21, he moved to England and began working in the casino industry. In 1997, he moved to Las Vegas.
As president of the JW Marriott, 221 N. Rampart Blvd., McMullan helped the Irish Pub Company open J.C. Wooloughan’s Irish Pub.
“I always wanted to (build a pub) because of my family,” McMullan said. “I named it after an Irish friend of mine who worked with me for a very long time.”
McMullan left the resort in 1999 and partnered with the Irish Pub Company to help build Nine Fine Irishmen inside New York New York. Around the same time, McMullan began designing his own pub.
“They asked me if there was going to be a conflict of interest,” McMullan said. “I told them no because I will be dealing with the locals, and they’ll be dealing with the tourists.”
McMullan’s Irish Pub opened in November 2002, and Nine Fine Irishmen opened June 2003.
“Nine Fine Irishmen was hugely successful, and I was bought out of managing it,” McMullan said. “Since then, I’ve just concentrated on my own. My wife and I work in the pub on a daily basis.”
About six of the bar’s staff members are from Ireland, including manager Neil Burns, who moved to Las Vegas from Ireland about nine years ago.
“I like that the pub is a family business rather than a huge corporation. It makes it more personal and more like a family,” Burns said. “I’ve worked here for seven years. I think that says enough.”
According to McMullan, the pub hosts a charity event every March for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that fundraises for childhood cancer research.
Since 2007, McMullan’s Irish Pub has collected more than $2.2 million for the foundation.
“The biggest check we’ve ever got was $10,000,” McMullan said, “but it’s usually all $20, $50 and $100 bills.”
This year, 360 participants volunteered to have their heads shaved at the pub. About a quarter of them were women, McMullan said.
“We never ask anyone to shave their heads, because it’s a personal thing,” McMullan said, “but I’m always stunned to why people do it. The support we get is unbelievable.”
McMullan is set to host the pub’s eighth annual St. Baldrick’s event March 1. The goal is to raise $500,000.
“It’s not about us or the pub,” McMullan said. “It’s about the children, and I can say that with my hand on my heart.”
McMullan’s Irish Pub is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information, visit mcmullansirishpub.com or call 702-247-7000. To register or donate to the St. Baldrick’s event, visit tinyurl.com/mgfyadn.
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at email@example.com or 702-383-0403.