I need to get with the program. It is 2014, and time that I realize that just because an establishment has “tavern”, or “sports bar” attached to its name, doesn’t mean it is off limits to families, or that it offers nothing more than wings and nachos. That holds true especially nowadays when parents have their kids in tow more frequently. I recently discovered a great place for my family to hang out and I’m looking forward to going back soon.
Little bit of Irish, lots of fun
Shawn’s Irish Tavern has been a local fixture since 1968. The first establishment is still located on Heatherdowns in south Toledo. In the last few years, they have also added locations in Waterville and Sylvania, owned by brothers John and Jeff Lark. Shawn’s offers an incredible beer selection (some Irish of course), and a fun time on St. Patty’s Day, but that’s probably the most Irish you will find in the place. It is, however, a great sports bar with 28 TVs, according to general manager Ryan Kahler.
I have stopped in to meet up with friends at the Sylvania location on several occasions. Recently a group of us were enjoying GNO (Girls’ Night Out) when I heard members of the group discussing their frequent trips to Shawn’s for meals with their families. I guess I had always been there later in the evening when most families had already left. I was impressed by the menu and my huge salad with grilled chicken. With my friends’ recommendations, I came back again, but this time with my kids and some friends of ours who were new to town. The TVs were a hit. Watching TV while eating is not allowed at home, so it is a special treat for the kids, and admittedly it was nice for the adults to converse interruption-free for a bit!
Above and beyond“bar food”
Before I get to the food, I must mention that every time I have been to Shawn’s in Sylvania, I had prompt and friendly service. The evening with my family was no different. Our waiter took great care of us and kept the kids happy with complimentary popcorn and drink refills. When I had questions regarding the use of peanut oil in cooking, the general manager came to the table to speak to me personally to assure me that peanut oil was not used in anything my youngest was ordering.
Kids eat free on Tuesdays. On any other day, the meals are a great deal, priced at $2.95-$3.75 and drinks are included. Whether your children want chicken tenders, grilled cheese, mini corn dogs, or other kid friendly selections, they will be happy.
The adults in your party will be pleasantly surprised by the menu selections. Of course you can find the usual wings, potato skins, and pizza that are standard fare at sports bars, but they offer so much more. “We want to be a sports bar, but we also want you to come back for good food,” said Kahler. “We’ve really tried to focus on the food.” I had a great fresh-grilled chicken breast with onions, mushrooms, and cheese plus two sides for $11.25. They have great ribs, a roast beef dinner, and a rather unique item for a sports bar; shepherd’s pie. Shawn’s has a large variety of sandwiches from the top grade ground beef hamburger, to Reuben’s, tuna melts, pulled pork, and more. My friend enjoyed the veggie ciabatta for $7.15. There is a nice selection of salads and soups as well.
As a parent, you will appreciate that the menu items are set at a great price point, and every day they offer a different special. Kahler said the pizza special on Sundays is a big hit with families. Dollar taco night, check their website for scheduling, sounds like it could be fun, too. All specials are listed on their website.
Bottom Line: Whether you call Shawn’s a tavern, a sports bar or not, rest assured you can call it family friendly. Shawn’s offers a large and varied menu for those both young and old. The wait staff is always attentive, and the kids will love the plentiful TVs. All three locations are in or around neighborhoods, making it convenient to stop in anytime with the family and, chances are, see some friends! Don’t forget your kids eat free on Tuesdays.
Shawn’s Irish Tavern
7436 W. Bancroft (at King), Sylvania
Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children and freelancewriter who resides in Holland, OH.