Ashley Sheridan, co-owner of the New Haven pub Anna Liffey’s and Chapel Street’s Celtica boutique, will return to his native Dublin this year after selling his shares in the two businesses.
The two establishments will continue under new ownership in Sheridan’s absence. He and his wife, Nicola, have a 1-year-old child and another child on the way, and Sheridan said he hopes to raise their children in Ireland.
“It’s really just a yearning to try to go home,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan said he considered trying to keep the businesses but decided it would be too difficult to run a “mom and pop operation” like his from 3,000 miles away. In addition, Sheridan said he needs the profits from the sales to fund the relocation, especially because of the increasing cost of living in Ireland.
“We just paid a fortune for an average home,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan sold his interest in Anna Liffey’s, a pub and restaurant on Whitney Avenue which opened in 1997, to the people who were already his partners.
He said he hopes to open a restaurant or bar in Ireland, but thinks it might be difficult because of the limited amount of space available to lease. To start a new venture in Dublin, prospective owners must often purchase an existing business, he said.
“I’d love to open another pub but I don’t know how realistic it will be initially,” Sheridan said.
On Feb. 1, Sheridan sold Celtica, the Irish specialty store and tea room on College Street, to Sergio and Luana Berardelli. Sheridan opened the store with his wife and another partner less than three years ago.
The Berardellis are the owners of O’Reilly’s Irish Gifts in Farmington, which Sergio Berardelli said is the country’s largest Irish store. They had been advising Sheridan on how to run his store before he decided to sell it.
“He was great and he seemed like the obvious person to know we were selling,” Sheridan said.
Sergio Berardelli said he does not plan to make any major changes in the store, but will introduce some new lines, such as Waterford.
“Basically the store will retain the same character,” Sergio Berardelli said. “Hopefully, we’ll do just as good a job as they did.”
There will be a reopening sale on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, March 14, 15 and 16.
Sheridan will be missed, said Tony Rescigno, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. But Rescigno said he was pleased that new owners are ready to take over the businesses.
“The reality of life here is that people come and go,” Rescigno said. “We treat that as a loss to the city and we’re just grateful that someone has come in in the two cases.”
Henry Fernandez, New Haven’s economic development administrator, said he appreciated that Sheridan was an active, involved businessman, always helping with the organization of area merchants and participating in promotions.
“You won’t find anyone downtown who didn’t like Ashley,” Fernandez said.
Sheridan said he looks forward to visiting New Haven and seeing how things have changed, such as the new Chapel Square Mall and the relocated Long Wharf Theater.
“It was great seeing New Haven mature,” Sheridan said. “I’m regretful that I’m leaving it as it’s coming into its prime.”