BRADENTON -- Two years after opening O’Bricks Irish Pub & Martini bar, owner Rick Willats expanded and added The Grill at O’Bricks.
Three years later, the time was ripe again to expand: Willats has opened O’Bricks new banquet room for its first holiday party this week.
Residents of Perico Bay Club’s Spoonbill Landings Circle met at O’Brick’s, 427 12th St. W., on Wednesday night for their first holiday party held outside of the Perico Bay clubhouse. Joanne Roberts, a Spoonbill Landings resident, volunteered to help organize the event and said nobody from the 47-person party had complaints after their downtown rendezvous.
“The organization was great,” Roberts said. “We had menus to pick from ahead of time. The price was very reasonable for what you got.”
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Roberts said the group paid $55 per person, which included three appetizers during social hour before guests sat down to eat. Dinner included a choice of three main courses, rolls, salad, dessert and wine served from the built-in bar.
Willats isn’t a fan of portable bars and wanted one built in to the banquet room from the start of the project. He also constructed two bathrooms in the banquet room, which Roberts and her group appreciated.
“The bathrooms made it very nice so you didn’t have to go through the restaurant,” Roberts said.
She was also impressed with the O’Bricks staff and service. O’Bricks staff is responsible for taking care of all parties booked in the banquet room.
The 1,600-square-foot space provides ad more intimate option for events in downtown Bradenton. Willats’ business partner, Mike Carter, owns the building and Willats said he knew the previous tenant, BB&T Bank, was looking for a new space for some time.
“The parking wasn’t very good and it didn’t have a drive-thru,” Willats said. BB&T Bank began renovations earlier this year to move into a 5,700-square-foot former First Priority Bank branch building at 921 Manatee Ave. W. In April, Willats told the Herald he turned away “rehearsal dinners nearly every week.”
The other option for events in downtown Bradenton is Pier 22, a waterfront restaurant on First Avenue West. The Pier 22 ballroom can accommodate 200 or more people and private or semi-private rooms can be used for smaller events.
“Ours is for a little bit different niche,” Willats said.
Bob Firkins, dealer at Firkins Automotive, chose O’Bricks for a mangers’ holiday party Dec. 19. He’s had previous good experience at O’Bricks personally and is excited about the new option for hosting events.
“There’s no place around that holds 55 people unless you got a restaurant to close and nobody wants to close in season,” Firkins said. “That’s why it’s great they’re doing it.”
The O’Bricks room can accommodate 50 to 60 people, Willats said. Roberts’ party of 47 was comfortable, she said, but depending on the setup of the event, 60 people might be “a little tight.”
“If you were having a cocktail party with standup tables you could get 65 to 70 people in there as long as you weren’t doing the sit down tables,” Roberts said.
Beyond expanding the services offered by O’Bricks, the buildout also allowed Willats to roughly double the kitchen space which has helped the staff improve its efficiency, he said. They’re still waiting on a set of doors to install between the kitchen and the banquet room to muffle kitchen noise, but Willats said he was happy with the noise levels at the Perico Bay party.
Before the room opened, Willats was receiving calls with inquiries about reservations to use the room. He has approximately 15 reservations scheduled for this month and has had some parties book as far out as December 2016.
Roberts’ group is already thinking about hosting their holiday party at O’Bricks again next year, she said.
“I’m glad we were the first ones but I think you could use it for any kind of a party or get together,” Roberts said.
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.