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Father Paddy’s & The Whiskey Vault

In a striking sandstone building that was constructed in 1903 as the Yolo County Savings Bank, there is an old-style Irish pub.  With its weathered wood paneling and comfy stuffed chairs, it appears to have always been there. In fact, Father Paddy’s Public House on Woodland’s historic Main Street is less than a year old, having opened in May of 2016 to almost immediate success.

Proud owner Patrick Redmond says he labored to make it feel like the traditional community gathering place that Irish pubs have always been, going so far as to attack the spacious room with power tools to create the illusion of wear. The result is truly impressive. Somehow, the majestic turn-of-the-century bank interior meshes perfectly with the lovingly built pub. Everything from the scuffed wood floor to the Irish blessings on the walls evokes the kind of place where people meet and tell stories while sipping a pint.

When he was 18, Redmond went on a trip to Scotland and was charmed by the pubs there. Since then, he’s lived a lifetime: raising a family, running businesses and establishing himself as a long-time Woodland resident. But he never forgot those pubs, and decades later when he was finally in a position to fulfill his dream, he says “everything just fell into place.” The old bank became available, and the community rallied around him to help make it happen.

It’s part of a revitalization of downtown Woodland, cultivating small businesses started up by creative entrepreneurs. New storefronts seem to spontaneously appear at an increasing rate every year. This has resulted in a bustling district while still keeping the integrity of the centuries-old buildings that make Main Street a gracious avenue. Travelers staying at the four freeway-adjacent hotels a mile away—many just staying overnight on their way to and from the airport—are starting to discover its charm. Father Paddy’s is just the kind of “locals’ secret” that visitors look for.

It’s Woodlanders that are making it happen, restoring buildings left and right and creating signature shopping and dining options. And Patrick Redmond and his wife Kathy are good at making things happen. On the pub’s little corner stage, bands play on weekend nights and all throughout the week. Group meetings take place in the small nook by the window or around the fireplace. In addition to the high-quality spirits found here, one can enjoy traditional comfort foods like shepherd’s pie, fish n’ chips, bangers and mash, and good old Irish stew.

And now Father Paddy’s has introduced a bi-monthly private whiskey feast, pairing a fine whiskey with original off-menu dishes from the kitchen for a lucky group of 50 people, by reservation only. Each dinner focuses on either one distillery or a line of whiskies, and an expert is brought in to educate the diners about the libations. The last dinner featured Buffalo Trace Whiskey, which produces four different brands, each paired with an appetizer, first course, main course and dessert.

Whiskey is Redmond’s passion. Like all his passions, he has researched it feverishly until he knows more about it than almost anyone, and he continues to learn.  In the gorgeous old bank vault, the “Whiskey Education & Tasting Room” gleams with the bottles of more than 90 hand-selected varieties of whiskey. You’d have to travel to San Francisco to find anything close to this, but it probably wouldn’t be in a cool bank vault like this one.

In the vault, Redmond will personally guide you through what he calls his collection of “the odd, the strange and the hard-to-finds.” One gets the feeling that this is his favorite part of the job. He likes to get to know people to pair them with a whiskey they will love. “It’s not a class on whiskey,” he says. “It’s a conversation. I spend time with them. I teach them what whiskey is, how it’s made and what it’s made from. If they aren’t a whiskey drinker, I can make them one.”

Redmond plans on adding a beer dinner to the calendar, pairing a selected beer with dishes that highlight and complement its flavors. These feasts always sell out, so you have to jump on it pretty quickly. You can contact Father Paddy’s if you want to get on the invitation list for these special evenings.

Lucky for the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, and Father Paddy’s is not taking their responsibility as the town Irish pub lightly. In partnership with Firehouse Entertainment, they are hosting the delightfully named “Who’s Your Paddy” street party on 1st and Main. There’ll be lots of beer, games, giveaways, great Irish music and, of course, corned beef and cabbage.

The Who’s Your Paddy Street Party starts at 12 p.m. Friday, March 17, at Father Paddy Irish Pub, 435 Main Street, Woodland, CA. Admission is free. For more information, call the pub at (530) 668-1044 or visit their website www.fatherpaddyspub.com.

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