Inside Chinatown’s New ‘Irish Heather Shebeen’

Last month Scout broke the news of the legendary Irish Heather’s imminent closure and impending move from Gastown, but we were sworn to secrecy (until now) about exactly where it would resurface…

After 24 years in Gastown, The Irish Heather and its adjacent Shebeen Whisky Bar are set to reopen next month in Chinatown at 246 East Georgia Street. The address, next to Phnom Penh and across the street from what used to be Mamie Taylor’s, is all of 2,200 sqft, giving owner Sean Heather more than enough room to include a lengthy bar up front, four semi-enclosed ‘snug’ booths that can seat up to 8 people each, an open kitchen, a long table of 36 seats and even a small private room.

Rather than physically separating the whisky bar from the pub (oh, how I miss the original Shebeen!), this third incarnation of the much-loved combo – now blessed with several skylights – will see them intertwined, with the spirit of the Shebeen at the front and the business of the pub more to the middle and rear.

Underneath it all is a basement space of raw and polished concrete, enough for some 55 seats accessed by a narrow set of stairs. With the end of Heather’s lease on Gastown’s Salt Tasting Room and its underground Salt Cellar event space on the not so distant horizon (September, 2021), this new and strikingly similar subterranean project is intended to fill that void in his ledger. Naturally, it will be called Salt Cellar.

On my recent walk-through of the woody space, now officially The Irish Heather Shebeen, I spied several relics of the original Heather, a couple of miniature Catholic grottos (including one dedicated to ‘the patron saint of head injuries’), matching wooden cabinetry from old drugstores, and countless rescued bits and bobs from long forgotten pubs with sympathetic aesthetics. Though there’s evidently much work still to be done, it already looks and feels like a Sean Heather joint, which is enough for me to anticipate bending an elbow there when it opens in mid-May. Take a closer look…

  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
  • Irish Heather + Shebeen
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There are 7 comments

  1. I live right across the street, so you can bet I’ll be over as soon as the doors open. Can’t wait to see the menu!

  2. I hope it has more the feel of the original and less of the narrow, squished feel of the second version with the locker room bathrooms and no place for good, live music.

  3. Stupid decision to move. Putting an irish bar in Chinatown. Gastown is the better place for it. Much more pedestrian traffic and tourist destination. Chinatown is not really a tourist destination. Too much modernization happening in Chinatown. Hardly feels like chinese anymore. Wish they go bankrupt soon.

  4. “Wish they go bankrupt soon.” I’m ashamed to have a reader who not only thinks shit like this, but also writes it down.

  5. I agree Andrew. Stupid comment. Idiotic reasoning. Without new business, Chinatown really will be history. Look forward to visiting the Irish Heather. Had a few very happy birthdays at the Shebeen in Gastown. Fond memories.

  6. Our agency is super excited to have them just a few doors down. Just in time to see things open up. Phnom Penh, Dalina, The Ramen Butcher, and Fat Mao will all benefit greatly with the new addition to the block. With St/ Pauls Hospital going in three blocks from here, this area of town is going to become very lively indeed. Innovators always find the next big thing, Sean and the team are onto something here I believe.

  7. My favorite incarnation of the Irish Heather was the one before the last one. I’m looking forward to visiting this one. I’m sad to hear that the Shebeen part won’t be separate but you have to work with the space you have. See you soon.

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