by Joshua Maloni
Whatever happened to The Irish Rose?
When Gary Brennan recently announced his intention to reopen Brennan's Irish Pub in the Village of Youngstown, questions again arose as to what happened to his previous tenant, Rose Wiktor, and her Irish Rose eatery.
Despite some off-the-wall rumors floating around suggesting all sorts of improprieties, Wiktor says her leaving was nothing special.
"For the best interest of me and my family, I decided to cease operations in New York state," she says. Wiktor ended her term at The Irish Rose in September 2010, right around her eatery's one-year anniversary. She also left the Sunset Grill in Wilson. Wiktor is now employed at the University at Buffalo, and "happily enjoying" a "somewhat normal schedule."
"It was the best decision I could make for myself and my family," she says.
The biggest problem operating The Irish Rose, Wiktor says, was waiting six months for a liquor license. Customers, she says, "They want that option. Even if they choose not to (drink), they want the option."
That delay, "Was not in the whole plan" she devised when deciding to take over Brennan's Irish Pub, which closed in 2007.
Coupled with state taxes, rent and other operating fees, Wiktor says, "It was not in the math" to remain open and viable and have enough to support her family.
As to speculation her business didn't work because of its location, Wiktor says, "All small businesses struggle in the winter - not just Youngstown." With the economy still rocky, she says luxuries - such as eating out - "are now going into people's gas tanks."
With regard to any unprofessional dealings with her staff, Wiktor says, "Every last employee was paid. That was No. 1."
She notes workers were given a little more than two weeks notice that The Irish Rose was closing. "It was as much notice as I could deem necessary," Wiktor says. "I notified as many people as I can."
As to rumors suggesting inappropriate personal relationships with staff, Wiktor refuses to dignify what she calls "dirty water."
She says there was no problem with Brennan, either.
"I don't have anything bad to say about Gary," Wiktor says of her former landlord.
Her former business colleagues, Mark and Cheryl Butera of Anchor Spirits, say Wiktor couldn't have been a better ambassador for the local community.
"We found her to be a great neighbor," Mark says. He adds, "She was exactly the sort of business operator Youngstown needs."
Cheryl says Wiktor was the reason the Youngstown Street Dance succeeded last summer.
"If it wasn't for Rose, there probably wouldn't be a street dance," she says.
"She was supportive of all the advertising ... fundraising ... she never said 'no,' " Cheryl says. "She was always willing to do more than her fair share."
The Buteras say they never had a bad meal at The Irish Rose, and that Wiktor was a terrific host.
"I think she's sorely missed," Cheryl says.
Wiktor, likewise, says she misses her customers.
"I have absolutely enjoyed every day going in," she says. "I absolutely loved doing what I did. ... I can't say 'thank you' enough."
Nowadays, Wiktor is happy to serve meals to a different audience: her family.
"They were so deprived over the years!" she says. "They're the ones I try to impress (now)."