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Italian Goes Bragh

Cafe in downtown Ventura undergoes a transformation into a Celtic-themed gathering spot.


If you want to meet with members of the Ventura City Council, your best bet may be simply to dine somewhere on Main Street downtown.

Councilman Brian Brennan has taken over co-management of the Italian Cafe at 394 E. Main St. and is in the process of converting it into O'Brians on Main, a "Celtic Gathering Place" with an Irish castle theme.

Brennan joins Sandy Smith, owner of Rosarita Beach Cafe, among the local council members who are downtown Ventura restaurateurs.

"The idea of O'Brians is for it to be a place for entertainment, dining, to do dessert after the movie," Brennan said.

"I think it will be in the tradition of what pubs and gathering places are about--celebrating, dining, sports and entertainment."

O'Brians will open quietly and unofficially Sunday evening as host of the Ventura Kinetic Sculpture Race wrap-up party.

Brennan plans a more official grand opening within the next couple of weeks, in time for the opening of the downtown movie theater.

"It's the idea of dining before the movie, or light dining and dessert after the movie," he said.

"We'll have Celtic music, fiddles, open-mike sessions for musicians that will allow it to be an energy center.

"I was born in Ireland," he said, "and this reminds me of a lot of places where people gathered for camaraderie--talking, chatting over a pint of Guinness and solving the problems of the world."

Brennan's brother, a Bay Area resident, is an agent representing Irish bands touring the United States. So O'Brians on Main is likely to be a stopping point for traveling bands, Brennan said.

Other Celtic entertainment will add to the authenticity of the establishment.

"I don't want this to be green beer on St. Patrick's Day," Brennan said. "I want this to be a cultural Irish place."

The menu, he said, will reflect that.

"Everybody thinks of corned beef and cabbage--which is fine if it's a good corned beef and cabbage," Brennan said. "But we're going to get into steaks, chops, fresh fish, Italian. More continental."

Look for lamb dishes, Irish stew and a concentration on quality desserts. O'Brians will be open for lunch and dinner once it's fully up and running.


It's a rare day when a restaurant-goer can order any food item off the menu and not feel the slightest bit of guilt.

Oct. 16 will be one of those days.

During the annual World Food Day "Dine Out--Help Out" fund-raiser, about two dozen restaurants will donate 10% of their proceeds to Food Share, Ventura County's food bank.

Participating restaurants include Verona Trattoria and Little Thai in Camarillo; Avanti in Oak View; the Ranch House, Tottenham Court and the Ojai Valley Inn's Oak Cafe in Ojai; the Whale's Tail and Regata in Oxnard; Doc's Cafe in Saticoy; Allison's Country Cafe, Hungry Howie's Pizza and the Mandarin House in Ventura; and Plug Nickel in Westlake Village.

Lamppost Pizza restaurants in Newbury Park and Westlake Village will also donate proceeds.

For a complete list of restaurants and information, call 983-7100.

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