In a historic, 130-year-old building in downtown Hurricane, West Virginia, locals order bangers and mash, fish and chips, or shepherd’s pie and get a taste of Ireland from Connolly’s Irish Pub. 

A lawyer by trade, co-owner Steven Connolly had dreamed of opening his own restaurant. 

“It’s always been on my mind,” Connolly said. “I grew up as a kid watching Cheers and having a place where people can come in and hang out and everyone knows everyone’s story. It’s the social connection I love.” 

Connolly's Irish Pub: A Taste of Dublin in Hurricane, WV 

Connolly reached out to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) and worked with WV SBDC Business Coach Will Miller to make the dream a reality. Together they created an entire business plan and a strategy to secure funding. 

“One of the biggest challenges, as with most startups, was to secure financing,” noted Miller. “Steve was in a good financial position when we started, but first, he did not have any bar or restaurant experience, which made lenders leery. We worked on a business plan that included bringing on a partner with years of experience. This helped ease the lenders’ concerns.”

The WV SBDC pairs small business owners with business coaches to provide no-cost, personalized assistance navigating the many avenues of entrepreneurship. 

Connolly's Irish Pub: A Taste of Dublin in Hurricane, WV 

“Buying the equipment, getting the licenses, staffing, and all the things that go along with it, those are all huge challenges. So if I’m an average person without the connections and knowledge going into it and I have a really good idea and business model, the WV SBDC is the first call I’m going to make,” Connolly said. 

Connolly’s goal of bringing a taste of Ireland to the Mountain State is the beginning of a larger plan to eventually expand to the building’s second floor, which currently includes 2,500 square feet of open event space. 

Connolly's Irish Pub: A Taste of Dublin in Hurricane, WV 

“By far, the best part of working with Connolly’s Pub is to see a person with a dream and passion start with just an idea, and now he has made it real. Being able to walk into a business filled with employees and customers and know you helped is an amazing feeling,” said Miller. “Working with Connolly’s Pub has been a great experience. They have shown real passion and determination, which are vital in making your idea come to fruition. It is also important to note that we are not done as client and coach now that they are open. When you work with the WV SDBC, we are always in your corner to help whenever we can.”