Paul Gregg, who has owned the Irishman’s Shanty in Crookston since 1984, got his start at the University of Minnesota Crookston Technical College as a Trojan. He studied hotel, restaurant, and institutional management with a restaurant management concentration, earning an associate in applied science degree in 1977, and was involved in tennis. He even worked at the Irishman’s Shanty while he was in school.
Gregg’s favorite memory from his time at the college was an end-of-the-year-project where he created a mock restaurant with employees, a head chef, manager, and recruited Crookston citizens as customers. Gregg was in charge of the advertising aspect of this project, and his team chose a Polynesian restaurant theme where their slogan was, “If you can’t afford a vacation, eat like you’re on one.” He said their project even made it on Channel 11 news.
“This project was so real and authentic that the team even had to do profit and loss, marketing, and payroll for the employees,” Gregg stated.
After graduating from UMN Crookston, Gregg landed a job working for Holiday Inn in Mankato, Minnesota. He then made the decision to go back to school at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he graduated with a business major and finance concentration. Deciding if he wanted to go the corporate route with Holiday Inn, or the proprietor route with a new opportunity posed to him by his brother, he eventually landed on what he referred to as, “buying yourself a job, or a prison sentence.” This led him to where he is today, owning the Irishman’s Shanty, which has been around since 1945.
Gregg’s family includes his wife of 33 years, Cindy 1988 and 2004, and two sons, Andy and Matt. His oldest son, Matt, is an engineer and has one child and another on the way, making Gregg a grandfather. Gregg’s youngest son, Andy, will be taking over the Irishman’s Shanty, carrying on the business.
“Andy always wanted cooking supplies and cooking things for Christmas,” Gregg recalled. “He is so excited and has already jumped right into it with many great ideas and suggestions for the restaurant.”
Gregg says he is forever grateful for the opportunities the University of Minnesota Crookston Technical College offered him during his two years as a student; which helped him learn the ins and outs of owning a successful restaurant. Gregg says he loved the small classes, great teachers, and amazing community of the college. He’s always willing to hire UMN Crookston students to work for him because they are “always such hardworking, ambitious people.” Gregg currently has three UMN Crookston students working for him.
“I love watching the students mature and grow from freshman to graduates,” he said proudly. “This college is truly a hidden gem.”
UMN Crookston will always hold a special place in his heart, Gregg adds.
Written for the Fall 2022 Torchlight e-Newsletter.