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Daddy O’Brien’s Irish Ice Cream Pub is coming to this spot on the Gainesville square
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Daddy O'Brien's Irish Ice Cream Pub's Gainesville location manager Catherine Bollin, left, and franchisee Michael Sgarella serve handcrafted ice cream on the Gainesville square Wednesday, May 4, 2022. The Sugar Hill-based restaurant is slated to launch a downtown Gainesville location this summer. - photo by Sean Williams

It’s easy to get a drink in downtown Gainesville — but getting a buzz from eating ice cream? That’s something Daddy O’Brien’s Irish Ice Cream Pub will make possible with its forthcoming location on the square.

Franchisee Michael Sgarella recently confirmed 21 Washington St. will be home to the Sugar Hill business’ second location. Specializing in handcrafted ice cream infused with adult spirits, the traditional Irish pub and restaurant is slated to open by the end of summer. 

“We finally have the wheels in motion to get the store worked on,” Sgarella said. “Right now, it’s an empty shell. The architect is coming up with the layouts and plans. Once they start building, we’ll have a sign on the front that says, ‘Coming Soon.’”

The original Daddy O’Brien’s opened in 2017 at the hands of Frank and Laurie O’Brien, although Sgarella is set to close on that location, too. The pub offers more than 100 flavors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice cream alongside traditional Irish fare. 

Sgarella said the Gainesville location will maintain the restaurant’s Irish roots while expanding its menu and shifting to a more sports-driven atmosphere with flat-screen TVs to appeal to Gainesville’s younger demographic. 

An increased focus on American fare like burgers and wings is one way the pub is hoping to draw a crowd.

“Their tastes are going to be different than someone my age, so we’re going to expand the menu,” Sgarella said. “Something I’ve learned from coming from the Northeast to the South is that college ball is huge here. On Saturday, if they want to watch the Bulldogs, I’ll turn on the TVs.” 

Sgarella said that the adult ice cream typically contains less than 3% alcohol. 

For those who prefer their liquor sans frozen dessert, Daddy O’Brien’s full-service bar will allow customers with cocktails and spirits.

“The ice cream gets people in the door, but if you have a pub, you might as well be traditional,” Sgarella said.

Sgarella hoped to have a soft opening on St. Patrick’s Day of this year, but pandemic-related supply chain issues and building closures caused a months-long delay. He cites Gainesville as an interesting location that appealed to him because of the various mom and pop shops. He and his wife frequented the O’Brien’s in Sugar Hill and decided to bring it to Gainesville. 

“We discovered the square and all the mom and pop shops and thought, ‘How cool is this?’” Sgarella said. “We noticed there were some gaps in what was already here and available.”

As they await O’Brien’s opening, ice cream lovers can get a taste of some of its non-alcoholic offerings via Sgarella’s mobile pop-up version of the locale. He and the Gainesville location’s future manager Catherine Bollin will be attending local events like the city’s Blue Sky Concert Series to sell their frozen treats. The adult flavors won’t be available on the square until the brick and mortar location is open for business, Sgarella said.

“We’re excited to be here,” Sgarella said. “We can’t wait to get started. We love the Gainesville area and the feel of the square.” 

Daddy O’Brien’s is also eyeing further expansion. Sgarella encourages prospective franchisees to contact him at 470-627-9770.