Taste Buds: O’Malley’s Pub and Grill

First opened in 1996, O’Malley’s Pub and Grill has since grown to be one of the most popular hangouts for locals, college kids and out-of-town visitors.

When first inside, there is a large, open dining area that leads to the bar section. Their bar-room, decorated with photos, neon beer signs and various décor, features a huge room-length bar with upwards of fifteen seating stools. This room leads to two other separate dining areas, as well as a covered patio that features live bands every Friday and Saturday night and  karaoke on Wednesdays.

There are multiple televisions throughout the establishment, which  makes O’Malley’s a perfect hangout to never miss a sport game.

 Owner Lynn Stanberry is a local to the community and a Western Carolina University alumni.

According to Stanberry, “I started waiting tables in 1996 when I was a student. Then, in 2000, I got a job as the manager. The owner at that time was Greg Rinehart. Then in 2002 when it became for sale, I bought it. I wanted to keep the business within the close-knit family we already had.  I wanted to maintain its integrity, so I bought it.

“Since it has been in my ownership, we have remodeled and expanded. Business here has definitely shot up! We have added booths to give it even more of a pub atmosphere. We are also highly involved with the college. We love the students and cater to WCU athletics. You will find us at all the football games,” said Stanberry.

   O’Malley’s has some exciting news. Their menu is getting remodelled.

  Kitchen manager and executive chef Ken Hahn discusses some of the new additions and the reason for the change.

   “On or around March 3, O’Malley’s will re-launch a new menu. We plan on keeping the traditional favorites like our burgers and wings, but we are adding a new twist. We are now using only the freshest ingredients and have gone organic. We buy our meats from Tennessee local farms. We want to keep it as local and fresh as possible. Our meats are never frozen,” said Hahn.

   “Our burgers have been switched to all-natural beef and our chicken is only organic. We have also added new dining entrees that aren’t your typical bar-food. O’Malley’s is a pub as well, but we’re striving to maintain an up-scale dining atmosphere. One of our new chicken entrees features a sweet-tea brined fried chicken. It is extremely juicy. When chicken is done right, you can definitely taste the difference. We have even changed when it comes to our vegetables. We do not use any canned foods anymore. We use fresh, organic, quality produce.

   “Switching to organic just makes sense. It simplifies things. It’s even easier and cheaper for us. We need to do what we do well,” said Hahn.

   O’Malley’s also offers daily specials. Specials on beef, chicken and pork can be found on Tuesday nights. Monday night is sliders and burgers. Friday night is a fresh fish night where freshly caught fish will be delivered Friday morning and served same day. Saturday night offers specials on various cuts of steak.

   When the owner, Stanberry, was asked about why the new change to her menu, she said this, “I have found that other local pubs and restaurants tend to offer the same things that we offered first. So we’re trying to change that. College kids don’t want just burgers and fries. It’s important to offer a variety of different foods to appeal to everyone.”

   CJ Reum, sous chef who started working for O’Malley’s last November, also had something to say about the new menu change.

   “The new menu is really quite simple. It’s really nice to put dinners in the menu and not just offer your typical bar food. Our new menu will offer signature dishes that no other bar can compete with. We are definitely looking forward to our re-launch,” said Reum.

   After interviewing with the owner and staff, my photographer Ceillie Simkiss and I were treated to three different dinner entrees that will be featured in their new menu launch.

   The first entrée was a BLT sandwich that will be priced at $9.25 for the sandwich and a side. The BLT features crisp and crunchy bacon, fresh, crisp, lettuce, and a twist of juicy, fried green-tomatoes. This is also served with a special Remoulade’ sauce, all served on toasted wheat bread. This sandwich tasted incredible. What makes this BLT different is the fresh ingredients and the unique taste of adding fried, green tomatoes instead of the average red. Juicy, warm, crunchy,and flavorful are just a few words that will come to mind when you take your first bite.

   This BLT variation unique to O’Malley’s alone is sure to become a quick popular favorite. This sandwich is served with your choice of a side.

   The second new menu entrée that Simkiss and I were treated to was my personal favorite of the day, also for a menu price of $9.25. A Buffalo chicken wrap special, stuffed full of spicy buffalo chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, blue cheese crumble and seasoned with roasted garlic.

   The  presentation of the food was impeccable and the taste was just as great. Served warm and fresh,  you could really taste the difference in the food with the change to organic meats and vegetables.

   I personally recommend this product to anyone who has high standards of what chicken should taste like.

   The third new menu entrée item that we got to try was Simkiss’ personal favorite, for a menu price of $10.95. It is an olive oil-based Linguine pasta, which will become another unique addition to O’Malley’s alone. This pasta features sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, basil and a special olive oil sauce. This pasta tasted just as great as any pasta you would find at an Italian restaurant and certainly brings ‘bar food’ to a whole new level.

 I highly recommend that you do not miss out on these fabulous new menu items. But this is just a taste! To experience all of the new entrees, join O’Malley’s on March 3 and taste it for yourself! All entrees will be served with your choice of a side, and since the menu is still in construction, prices are subject to change.