Barry O’Donovan

Age: 52

Place of birth: Kilkenny.

Where you live: Cranford, NJ.

Name of Company you work for: Kilkenny House Restaurant and Pub.

City you work in: Cranford.

Profession: Restaurateur.

Why I chose this career: Came for a summer, loved it. Enjoying it ever since. A dollar and a dream.

Status: Married.

Family: Married to Peggy, two sons, Kevin and Tim.

The proudest moment of my career: Marrying Peggy Murray and getting back to business after Hurricane Irene.

Biography: Barry O’Donovan’s firm handshake, eye contact and heartfelt greeting embodies everything the previous generations stood for and lived by. Described as a modern day businessman with solid roots in traditional beliefs he hails from Kilkenny City and being the fifth child out of six, he learned tenacity, persuasion and creativity from a young age especially with three older brothers.

At 18, he arrived in New York for a summer and less than 12 months later landed again at JFK which started a 33 year relationship with the restaurant business. Joyce’s in Manhattan launched Barry’s career and here he worked his way up the ladder from waiter to manager. The late 1980s saw Barry take up residence and make his mark in Brooklyn working between TJ Bentleys and Peggy O’Neills.

October 1996 was a turning point for Barry – he became owner of his first pub – “Judge and Jury” and on March 17, 2003 he accepted ownership of his next venture, Henry Grattan’s. During this decade, Barry also embarked on understanding the relationship between business and community and swiftly became part of the 68 Precinct Community Board and collaborated on many successful initiatives and endeavors. Cranford, New Jersey is where his family – wife Peggy and sons Kevin and Tim – moved to in 2002 and as he faced changing demographics and a customer base that was progressing towards suburban life, Barry realized it was time for change again. As the world looked at the October 2008 Market dropping and spiraling into further recession, Cranford was looking at Barry O’Donovan who had just opened Kilkenny House the previous month. Kilkenny House reached into Cranford life and became a firm fixture in the community and Barry received the Silver PBA award by the police department as an outstanding citizen.

Last year, with the 3rd year anniversary celebration planning underway and the end of the summer season wrapping up, Barry was forced to face the stark realization that Hurricane Irene had devastated the town and his business, this on August 28.

Despite a submerged basement and water penetrating his ground level, Barry did not waste time on a wake for material loss. After ensuring what he could do for others and seeing their loss poured out on the streets of Cranford, he knew he had to give them back their “local,” a place where they could gather and have their own wake.

A mere six weeks after Irene inscribed her name forever in Cranford history, Kilkenny House opened its doors once again. Barry’s heritage, genetic make up, and self-belief forced him to beat the odds.

Barry re-established his business by treating it as a family, by being progressive, dependable, honest and consistent. He creates the perfect synergy with the Cranford community and it is no wonder that all that know him, and enter Kilkenny House, feel at home with his greeting “welcome to my living room.”

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