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Irish pub preparing to open as owner appointed to DDA board

Meet the folks behind Sullivan's Public House (from left): Food and Beverage Lead Mary Jo Cremin, Owners Jamie and Jerry Cremin, Sous Chef Patrick McGuigan and Executive Chef Nathan Yorke. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
June 11, 2014 - Jerry Cremin has got a lot on his plate.

In less than two weeks, he's expecting to open an authentic Irish pub in downtown Oxford's northwest quadrant.

On top of that, he was recently appointed to the Downtown Development Authority's (DDA) Board of Directors.

But Cremin doesn't mind all the activity because he's passionate about the future of his new business venture and the future of the town he's hoping will support it.

"I really have grown to love the Village of Oxford," he said. "It was a love-at-first-sight kind of a thing . . . When I pulled into the village, it felt like home. It almost felt a little bit like Ireland."

Cremin, who lives in Orion Township, is preparing to open Sullivan's Public House at 23 N. Washington St.

Named for his grandmother, the pub will offer patrons the opportunity to experience a wee bit of the Emerald Isle without having to travel more than 3,000 miles.

"I really want people to understand and embrace the Irish hospitality that I want to bring to Oxford," he said.

Although he was born in Brooklyn, New York, Cremin's family is from County Kerry, Ireland. He lived in Ireland from age 8 to 19 and most of his family is still over there.

Unlike many bars and restaurants, Sullivan's menu won't rely on frozen foods and pre-made items.

"We're going to be doing a lot of scratch-cooking," Cremin said. That includes making their own sausages and desserts along with baking their own bread on a daily basis.

The menu will feature a variety of Irish classics such as boxty (potato pancakes), lamb cottage pie, bacon and cabbage, Guiness stew, fish and chips, baked Irish onion soup and colcannon potatoes.

For diners who want something other than traditional Irish fare, Sullivan's will offer items such as an angus burger, New York strip steak, Berkshire boneless pork loin, mussels, salads and chicken wings.

Patrons will be invited to wash down their meals with any of the 12 beers on tap, a mix of imported Irish standards and Michigan-based brews.

Diners will be able to enjoy their food and sip their whiskies and ales surrounded by light fixtures, paintings, woodwork, flooring and bric-a-brac straight from the old country.

"We sourced what we could from Ireland," Cremin said. "We got probably about 75 percent of what we wanted from Ireland."

Sullivan's main floor contains the bar area and is loosely modeled after The Long Hall, a well-known, traditional pub in Dublin, according to Cremin. The upstairs houses the main dining room, complete with functioning fireplace, and kitchen.

Sullivan's will be able to accommodate approximately 136 patrons including an outdoor dining area that seats 20.

Cremin brings a wealth of business knowledge and experience with him to the DDA.

"What already is an amazing village could only benefit from me having a part to play in it," he said. "The DDA board is a really smart group of people and it's an honor for me to be a part of it."

Prior to landing in the Oxford area, he held managerial positions at some famous establishments in New York City including The Plaza Hotel and Tavern on the Green.

In 2009, the second year he worked at Tavern on the Green, the legendary establishment grossed $36.8 million, making it the second-highest grossing privately-owned restaurant in the United States.

"It was second only to Tao in Las Vegas," Cremin said. "I always joke the reason they beat us out was because Las Vegas never closes."

Since 2011, Cremin has held the position of assistant food and beverage director at the famed Detroit Athletic Club (DAC). He's taking a sabbatical from that job in order to open the pub. He noted the DAC management has been very supportive and understanding.

"Once I get my place up and running, I'll be returning there," Cremin said.

Given that downtown Oxford has 11 eateries within four blocks – soon to be 12 with Cremin's pub – he believes having a restaurant owner on the DDA board will be "valuable to the team."

Cremin noted he would like to play a role in downtown events given his event-planning background.

Even as he's busy preparing to open his first business, Cremin has already expressed an interest in possibly opening a second one in downtown Oxford – a butcher shop.

He said there's a big movement in the restaurant industry and among chefs toward returning to "whole butchering."

Rather than picking and choosing the cuts of meat they need, there's a growing trend whereby restaurants are ordering entire animal carcasses and butchering them in-house.

"I think the art of butchery is on its way back," Cremin said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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