Served with Irish attitude

Shop owners hope to draw on Irish accent, charm

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Paddy Shack, Steamboat's newest really tiny restaurant, is just what the name implies: a friendly coffee/salad/soup and sandwich joint owned by an Irishman who loves golf -- and golf movies starring Bill Murray.

"We wanted to think of something catchy, but we found out that Daily Grind and Higher Grounds were already taken," Paddy Shack owner Leslie Dietz said. The couple added the phrase "coffee and food with altitude" to close the loop between Ireland and the Rocky Mountains.

Dietz isn't Irish, but her husband, Kevin Farrell, most certainly is. Farrell hails from Baltinglass in County Wicklow.

Dietz likes to joke that some of her customers are disappointed that she lacks an Irish brogue.

"They say things like, "Well, you've lost your accent haven't you?" Dietz laughs.

Deitz says her husband's accent and his outgoing personality are a significant draw for Paddy Shack, which occupies a free-standing kiosk in front of the Steamboat Brewery and Tavern at the Fifth Street Marketplace. Farrell insists his accent isn't nearly as thick as it was before he encountered Aussies and Americans.

"I've really slowed down (my speech)," Farrell said. "And I pronounce my words differently. If you could meet my 'brudders,' you'd know."

Paddy Shack doesn't have a liquor license, but it's worth stopping in with your own mug for a $1 coffee just to hear Farrell hold forth for 15 minutes on the proper way to pour a draught of Guiness stout.

In addition to rich coffee and lattes, Paddy Shack serves sandwiches and grilled panini, hearty soups and healthy sandwiches. You also can swing in for a quick muffin or a bowl of granola with nuts and fruit.

The story of how Dietz and Farrell came to Steamboat is a circuitous tale.

Dietz grew up in Greeley and came to Steamboat to ski as a child. That part sounds familiar. Later, she left "Gree-ality" for Manhattan, N.Y., and a career in destination management. She worked three years for a company that arranged all of the details for corporate events and affluent family groups visiting the Big Apple.

Eager for a lifestyle change, Dietz went to Sydney, Australia, to pursue a master's degree in international relations. Later, she shifted gears and attended the International Wine Academy in pursuit of a wine certificate.

Dietz could not have known that the love of her life had immigrated to Australia from Ireland a decade ago to take up the second phase of a 20-year career in the food and beverage industry.

Somewhere in Dietz's mind, she entertained falling in love with a bloke with an accent. It just wasn't an Irish brogue she had in mind. Farrell ran several pubs and wine bars (called "hotels" in Australia) and the two met through their interest in wine.

"He ruined all of my dreams of falling in love with an Aussie and achieving residency status there," Dietz cracked.

Humor aside, her immigration status was a real problem, so the couple came to the United States last year to look for a new home.

"We left Australia in February and visited 26 states in 5 1/2 weeks," Farrell said.

After spending a few days in Steamboat they quickly recognized that the Yampa Valley attracts healthy, active people who want something that can't be found along the Interstate 70 corridor.

"If you came here, you came here for a reason," Dietz observed.

Farrell and Dietz feel Steamboat has been supportive of their business, and though it's small, they have grand plans.

"This is definitely a stepping stone to something else," perhaps a wine bar or an ethnic restaurant, Farrell said.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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