Kerry Irish Pub (331 Decatur St., 504-527-5954) in the French Quarter is owned by New Orleans native Doris Bastiansen.
Kay Harris, a friend of Bastiansen's, opened the pub in 1993 and asked for her help to get the fledgling business off the ground. Bastiansen agreed. But in 2000, Harris died and Bastiansen decided to take over.
"I had a personal attachment to the Kerry and I didn't want to see it become another daiquiri shop or T-shirt store," she says. "It had a special feel and I wanted to keep that. Plus, I was emotionally attached to this place. I probably bought this place for all of the wrong reasons, but it ended up being for the right ones."
Bastiansen also works in the shipping industry. That keeps her busy during the day, but most evenings, she oversees the goings-on of the Kerry. She's easy to spot: She's only 4 feet 11 inches tall and usually is perched near the coffee machine at the end of the bar.
"I like it there since I can see everything from that spot," she says.
Bastiansen keeps Kerry Irish Pub true to its Irish name. There is an Irish national flag on the wall, an assortment of photographs of Ireland and pictures of many of the musicians who have played at the Kerry over the years. Live music is a big draw, and Bastiansen is committed to keeping local musicians onstage.
"I love live music and I wanted to provide a way to showcase local artists who don't ordinarily get to play in the bigger clubs," she says. "We focus on singer/songwriters, country, honky-tonk and Irish music. We really offer a little bit of everything."
Musicians such as Lynn Drury and Kim Carson have performed there since the pub opened.
Even though the pub is in the French Quarter, it gets a mix of both locals and tourists.
"Many of our tourists are international visitors," Bastiansen says. "One of the biggest compliments I get is when people visit from Ireland or England and they comment on how much Kerry Irish Pub is like their favorite pub back home. ... We now even have 'irregular regulars' that have found the Kerry in addition to our local regulars. I get to see old friends and meet so many new ones."
Kerry Irish Pub serves Guinness on draft, and was recognized by the review app Foursquare on its list of the 15 best places for a Guinness in New Orleans. The pub also serves Irish coffee, a large selection of Irish whiskeys, Magners Irish cider and the Irish lager Harp. Kerry Irish Pub has beers from local places such as Abita Brewing Company and NOLA Brewery, "so we also support the local drafts as well as the Irish ones," Bastiansen says.