Browne’s: An Irish Legacy

Missouri is lucky enough to be home to approximately 835,000 residents (13.8 percent) that claim Irish heritage, according to U.S. Census data. There is even an St. Patrick, Missouri, but that’s another story.

I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, yet when I stepped through the brass-handled, wooden doors of Browne’s Irish Marketplace in Kansas City, I felt strangely at home.

Maybe it was the well-trodden oak floor and tantalizing aroma of fresh baked soda bread.

Maybe it was the welcoming smile of Wendy, a long-time Browne’s employee, from behind the deli counter, as she recommended the Rueben, sauced with both thousand island and horseradish (a dynamite combo, by the way).

Or maybe it was the deep sense of family, as four generations of entrepreneurs looked down from photos hung high on the wall behind the register, next to the count-down clock to – you guessed it – St. Patrick’s Day.

Browne’s is a staple in Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Each year, the family serves a truly authentic Irish breakfast every Saturday leading up to and on St. Patrick’s Day where fifth-generation Browne’s are called into work, keeping tradition alive.

Fill-up on hearty Irish favorites including rashers, bangers (Irish bacon and sausage), scrambled eggs, grilled potatoes, tomatoes, and beans.  And of course, Browne’s house-made soda bread, the recipe for which came from a long-time Irish customer, Nan, allowing her legacy to live on.

Wash down breakfast with the traditional Guinness, Harp, and Boulevard’s Irish Ale; or opt for the special coffee blend “1887” created for Browne’s by The Roasterie’s owner and long-time friend, Danny O’Neil, commemorating the year Browne’s opened.

Browne’s was originally Flavin’s Market, built in 1887 by Ed and Mary Flavin from County Kerry, Ireland in the front of their home at 27th and Jefferson. In 1901, they expanded and relocated to today’s location on the corner of 33rd and Pennsylvania, passing the business to their daughter Margaret, and her husband Jim Browne (also from Country Kerry). Their son, Bob and his wife, Margie bought Browne’s in 1955, and their daughter Kerry (Browne) and her husband John McClain in 1981.

Browne’s owner, John, showing off the “Oldest Irish business in North America.”

When the Irish Trade Board dubbed Browne’s the “Oldest Irish business in North America” in 2006 and suggested they celebrate, Kerry and John planned the first of many Irish Street Fairs for the 120th anniversary. Every May, Irish and non-Irish alike celebrate with live music, local vendors and food and drink.

Explore Browne’s expanded Irish retail items including food, arts, crafts and Irish swag.  Products that aren’t from Ireland are made locally in Kansas City including custom t-shirts, earrings, and coasters.  Their unique KC socks are made by School of Sock in nearby Lee’s Summit.

“It’s truly a family life in more than just the traditional sense,” says Kerry Browne. “Our customers and community are our friends and family, too. Few people get to live their dream every day, and I feel blessed that we do.”

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