By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
August 17. 2017 12:51AM
The finishing touches are taking place inside the bar at Murphy’s Taproom and Carriage House along Route 101 in Bedford. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)
BEDFORD — The grand opening of Murphy’s Taproom and Carriage House is tentatively set to take place next week, but a soft opening could occur as early as this weekend.
“I am so excited to finally be able to open and share this place with the public,” Kelleigh Murphy said on Wednesday.
The former Weathervane site along Route 101 has been transformed into a new Irish pub and function hall by owners Kelleigh and Keith Murphy, the founders of Murphy’s Taproom and Murphy’s Diner in Manchester.
After months of construction, the finishing touches are now taking place at the new Bedford establishment, a family-friendly restaurant with a 240-seat function space.
“We tried to stay rustic-chic,” Kelleigh Murphy said of the decor, which has an Ireland vibe complete with handmade signs indicating the distance from Bedford to the Murphys’ favorite places on the Emerald Isle.
The 22,265-square-foot restaurant and banquet facility includes a mezzanine overlooking the Carriage House great room, bridal suite, dance floor, dozens of bar seats, pub-style and traditional seating, separate meeting rooms, two patios for outdoor dining and a deck bar.
Fire pits will be installed outside, and a traditional wood-burning fireplace is the focal point of the bar space.
“We have 30 beers on tap and another 32 types of bottles or cans,” said Murphy, adding local beers from Able Ebenezer in Merrimack will also be available for patrons.
Wine lovers will be pleased with the extensive wine list, according to Murphy. About 15 specialty cocktails are on the menu, along with nearly 60 different wines including two from LaBelle Winery in Amherst.
“We really tried to bring in the local flair,” said Murphy. Work from several local artists will be featured in the Carriage House room portraying scenes from Joppa Hill Farm and a Bedford church — all of it framed by a local resident.
Murphy’s Taproom will be ideal for weddings, receptions and corporate events, said Murphy, adding the facility is already about 60 percent booked for Christmas parties this December.
An area bride just booked her September wedding reception, and several other wedding events have been scheduled for 2018 and 2019, she said.
The kitchen is complete with two separate food lines for the banquet area and restaurant area. A top-of-the-line dishwasher has been installed, as well as a highly efficient sewer system, Murphy said.
“We designed this to be a very traditional Irish pub with a huge open bar area and several breakout rooms,” she said. Televisions are stationed throughout the pub, and about 30 bar seats surround the large counter space.
Acoustic ceiling tiles have been installed to reduce sound, and a casual nook with informal seating is also stationed in the bar area.
The couple, who opened Murphy’s in Manchester about 11 years ago, moved to Bedford in 2009 with the hope of one day building a local restaurant.
When the Weathervane closed, Murphy said she called the Realtor that day to schedule a showing of the site. Although they had wished to keep the building, they opted to raze the structure after discovering asbestos and other problems.
“We feel like this has taken forever. We are so anxious to be open,” she added.
A soft opening with reserved patrons could take place this weekend or early next week. A grand opening has been tentatively planned for Tuesday. About 30 servers have been hired, along with 10 bartenders, 10 function staff members and 15 kitchen assistants.
Tom Reany of Amherst has been named the executive chef; he previously worked at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston.
Some of the menu items include scotch eggs, roasted olives, wings, salads, pizza, burgers, steak, honey Irish mist creme brulee, banana cream pie and an extensive kids menu with grilled and fried options.