By Tim J. Randall
The winter months in Scottsdale are filled with signature events that define it as the premier destination for sports, entertainment and tourism.
Collectively known as “The Season,” January and February overflow with college football bowl games and playoffs (the teams and their fans stay at Scottsdale resorts), a Super Bowl every few years, the Waste Management Phoenix Open and accompanying Birds Nest, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and a multitude of collector-car auctions and shows.
And that’s all above and beyond the signature resorts, magnificent desert vistas and inviting warm weather. Thousands of people come through Scottsdale Airport each winter just for that.
No matter what brought them here, they’re all looking for places to eat and drink. For more than 12 years, they’ve found it at K O’ Donnell’s Sports Bar and Grill, now a fixture in the Airpark area.
“We are ready to serve our customers with great food and drink specials and a fun atmosphere,” said Don Stremme, the restaurant’s co-owner.
Stremme and his business partner, Jennifer O’ Donnell, bought the establishment from O’Donnell’s father, Kevin, three years ago.
“A lot of restaurants and bars have opened and closed their doors over the years,” said Stremme, whose establishment weathered the Great Recession. “Our casual, fine-food sports bar is all about service and a personal touch.”
Patrons visiting K O’Donnell’s can watch a ball game on one of 68 TVs, choose from 16 on-tap beers and experience delicious fare from their loaded menu.
“We have daily drink, beer, appetizer and food specials,” said Stremme. “95 percent of our food is homemade from scratch.”
Among the biggest draws at K O’Donnell’s is the outdoor patio, which has expanded considerably over the years.
“There are over 100 seats now, and we have 24 TVs, up from six just a few years ago,” he said. “Guests can enjoy our fireplaces, and the patio now has shades all around.”
Stremme and O’Donnell know that “The Season” is prime time for growing their business.
“We see a 25 percent increase in sales over that period,” Stremme said. “And, of course, as an Irish bar, our favorite day of the year is St. Patrick’s Day.”
Among the many draws of K O’ Donnell’s is its diverse offering of activities that include Team Trivia, Off Track Betting, Poker Night three evenings a week, Ladies Night and Weekend Hangover Brunch.
“We recently added OTB,” Stremme said.
With the onslaught of customers for the winter events, Stremme and O’Donnell focus on delivering a superior experience to their customers.
“Last year, we had shuttle service to and from The Waste Management Open,” Stremme said. “We had over 1,000 passengers and will have the service back again this year.”
Patrons also can enjoy daily happy hour and reverse happy hour, and on any given day or night enjoy festivities, be it Monday and Thursday Night Football or Tuesday Margaritas.
To prepare for the traffic increase of “The Season,” Stremme and O’ Donnell expand their staff to accommodate customer needs.
“We are overstaffed,” he said.
Stremme also notes that during this peak period, he continues to see day-to-day regular customers along with the new ones.
“We don’t lose our regulars as activity picks up,” he said. “We also always see ‘new’ old faces that come back every year.
“Definitely, though, during this time there are more young people. We are engaging with our guests more on social media.”
With so much to watch and be a part of in the Airpark community the next few months, patrons will appreciate the comfortable atmosphere of K O’ Donnell’s, Stremme believes.
“We are always trying to improve the experience for our customers,” he said.
K O’ Donnell’s Sports Bar and Grill
14850 N. Northsight Blvd.
Open Mondays 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Tuesdays through Wednesdays 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturdays 10 a.m.-midnight and Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
kodonnells.com or (480) 922-7200