The owners of O’Connor’s Restaurant and Bar, a Worcester institution for over 30 years, have finally passed the baton to new management, but customers can rest assured the iconic Irish pub will remain the same place they know it and love.
Restaurateurs Dennis and Jennifer Maxwell and their son Kyle will officially take over O’Connor’s by the end of the month. Current owners, Brendan and Claire O’Connor, opened the restaurant in 1989, just a year after immigrating from Limerick, Ireland. Brendan O’Connor will stay at the restaurant for a few months to help ensure a smooth transition.
“We don’t want to change much. It has such a great soul in it,” Kyle Maxwell said. “Brendan has done a great job of making it what it is today. It’s an iconic staple of the Worcester community. We’re looking to keep that going and develop some things here and there.
The family has run numerous restaurants over the years, but Maxwell said the only other location they currently own is Cedar Hill Dairy Joy in Weston, a seasonal ice cream and seafood store.
Michael Nelson, the family’s managing partner, is also a long-time restaurant owner; the Marlborough resident said he appreciates that much of the O’Connor’s staff are veterans, with some staff having worked there for 10 to 20 years. All staff will be retained until the change of ownership.
“I’ve been here as a customer for many years,” Nelson said. “It’s a great group of people.”
Nelson said the main changes that will happen immediately at the restaurant will be the implementation of new reservation and IT systems.
“The atmosphere will remain the same, the main menu will remain the same. We’ll just tweak things along the way,” he said. “The atmosphere, from a consumer perspective, won’t change much, because it works and what isn’t broken, we’re not going to fix.”
The new managers will also continue O’Connor’s private events and catering programs, utilizing its multiple venues which are popular for birthdays, anniversaries and other events.
What will change, Nelson said, is that he hopes to start inviting food trucks to the restaurant’s outdoor space for events, taking advantage of the large parking lot, outdoor seating area and tent. They also hope to start offering Sunday brunch within the next six months.
“It feels good to have the opportunity to join a community like this, but we also recognize that there are big shoes to fill,” Maxwell said. “We just hope to do our best and do our best to provide the best possible experience for our customers and hopefully maintain the same high level of service and experience that Brendan has fostered and see how to some way we can put our unique touch on it. We are excited for this opportunity and hope the community enjoys what we have to offer.