The Irish restaurateur on keeping the Dublin spirit alive in Ohio

About 14 years ago, Ian “Monty” Montgomery was on a date with his now-wife, Michelle, at Fado Irish Pub in Easton. She asked him about his dreams, and he told her he wanted to open a pub.

“I don't recall saying that, but she said it happened and she's always right,” Montgomery said during an interview at Fado Pub & Kitchen, which he owns.

At the time of the date with Michelle, Montgomery was on vacation from his job as a police officer in his home of Dublin, Ireland. After the couple married, they intended to settle in Columbus temporarily to be near Michelle's family.

“I said, ‘I'd like to live in America for a year,'” Montgomery recalled. “Four kids [and] 12 years later we'll say [Michelle] wins this one.”

Montgomery was surprised by the friendly nature of the Ohioans he encountered. “People were genuinely interested when they heard your accent,” he said. And the weather — especially the snow — was a welcome change from Ireland — except one season.

“You guys are crazy about fall and sweaters,” he said. “I hate the fall.”

After drinking at Fado Irish Pub for four years, Montgomery was offered a job, and later partnered with the business to expand, opening Fado Pub & Kitchen in Dublin, Ohio, on Oct. 1. Designed to reflect the pubs back in Dublin, Ireland, the bar offers a European-style menu, featuring chicken liver pate, shepherd's pie and an extensive port list.

“You can have quality food in a place that has a pub atmosphere,” he said.

The interior boasts bright tiles, chandeliers, an open kitchen and a dining room named for a popular landmark in Ireland, the St. Stephen's Green public park.

Montgomery also works hard to keep the spirit of Ireland alive in his home. He watches Irish sports with his kids, and takes them on trips “back home.”

“I make them listen to Irish music and they hate it,” he laughed. “All I hear is, ‘Alexa, stop.'”

Irish music won't be a staple at the pub, though. And beginning this weekend, a DJ will play songs from the 1970s, '80s and '90s — “with the emphasis on cheesy,” Montgomery said — each Friday and Saturday night.

With just a week of operation under his belt at the time of the interview, Montgomery said being a restaurateur is more stressful than being a cop. But there are similarities.

“Every day I went to work, I didn't know what I was going to come up against, who I was going to meet,” Montgomery said. “I meet all different people every day. It's dealing with people.”