NORMAN — A pair of Norman traditions are scheduled to start anew today — University of Oklahoma football and festivities at O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille. The O'Connell's on Campus Corner is scheduled to open at a new location, 769 Asp Ave., after 15 months of renovation work — just in time for the 2008 OU football season. "We might have a private run Friday to make sure everything is ready,” co-owner Jeff Stewart said. "But we're going to open by game day Saturday.” Stewart said the original O'Connell's on E Lindsey Street, which opened in 1968, will remain open through the rest of this year and perhaps part or all of 2009. The original O'Connell's restaurant — and its parking lot — is a popular spot for OU fans on football game days and is known for festive St. Patrick's Day celebrations that start early in the morning and stretch late into the night. The restaurant was relocated to Campus Corner after the University of Oklahoma Foundation purchased most of the block the original O'Connell's sits in September 2006. OU eventually bought the property, and businesses on the block knew they'd eventually have to move. University officials haven't officially announced what they intend to do with the land, but some have indicated it will be turned into a parking lot. The businesses on that land are being allowed to remain open until plans are finalized by the university.
More space, no giant TVThe Campus Corner location won't have the huge television that the Lindsey Street parking lot has on football game days, but it does have a patio with sliding glass doors along the entire front of the business. The new pub and grille also has more space, about 6,000 square feet compared with the 3,500 square feet at Lindsey Street. It also has detailed woodwork, beer-bottle chandeliers, and countless clovers shaped in wood, metal and glass. It employs 62 people. O'Connell's on Campus Corner will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. "It's kind of like the legend is reborn, the landmark is reborn,” said Mikel Crowley, who bought into the business early this summer. "It has the same spirit and the same guts; it's just a different location.” The Campus Corner location had come a long way since the building permit was approved in May 2007, but work remained to be done Thursday. The site was being inspected by city staff that day while tradesmen applied finishing touches on counters, tables, and decorative items. "We're going to have a marathon session tonight and into next week,” Stewart said. "We'll have a custom-built shuffle board put in next week, so it's still coming together.”
Mikel Crowley and Jeff Stewart, co-owners of O'Connell's Irish Pub and Grille, stand in their new Campus Corner location. By steve sisney, THE OKLAHOMAN