A Q&A with Bonnie Schneiders of The Irish Exchange
A neighborhood pub in business since 1991, The Irish Exchange recently took the step of adding some bona fide Irish cuisine to its menu of familiar bar-food favorites.
“People would come in and say, ‘What do you have that’s Irish?,’ and we didn’t have anything really,” said Bonnie Schneiders, manager of the Irish Exchange and a co-owner since 2012. “These dishes have taken off, and they’re doing well.”
It’s been almost 19 years since Schneiders was hired at The Irish Exchange as a server. “Since I was 22 and skinny,” she said, with characteristic good humor. Here she talks about the cozy bar-restaurant at 3824 Tuscarawas Street W in Canton.
Q. First off, let’s talk about the Irish food. What are you serving?
A. “I love our corned beef and cabbage, which we cook for six hours. It’s hard to have it all the time, so we do it as a special, usually one weekend a month. We have bangers and mash, which is Irish sausage, mashed potatoes with onion gravy and peas. We have the Irish sausage made for us from our own recipe, and I actually prefer it to Italian sausage. We have shepherd’s pie, which is sautéed onions, carrots, peas and ground beef topped with mashed potatoes with melted cheddar cheese on top. And we’ve got the Scotch egg, which we wrap in Irish sausage, coat with breading, then deep fry.”
Q. Do you have any sandwich recommendations? There are so many on your menu.
A. “I think our Cajun burger is really good. It has grilled hot peppers and onions and pepper jack cheese, and we season it with Cajun butter. I like spicy stuff. The Shamrock Grill has our housemade creamy cole slaw and provolone cheese on top of corned beef or turkey on Texas toast. We’re adding a sandwich with 10 ounces of corned beef on a thick cut of rye with pickles and Thousand Island dressing.”
Q. What are the challenges of running business like this?
A. “Constantly coming up with new stuff, always having specials, keeping up with what’s going on. There’s so much to do every day. Our kitchen staff has been the same for a long, long time so I’m fortunate in that area. Right now, we’re waiting on our gambling license. We’ll have the pull tabs, and we’re working on getting Ohio Keno in here.”
Q. How would you describe the vibe at The Irish Exchange?
A. “You walk in and everybody says hi to everybody. There are so many regulars and not just at the bar, the whole place. People have their favorite servers, the servers know you. It’s a nice atmosphere.”