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Irish Hostess in Chicago Exiles Her Country's PM to Tiny Table

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Leo Varadkar’s Irish waitress didn't recognize him at first

Barcocina hostess Emma Kelly (right) poses with Irish PM Leo Varadkar in Wrigleyville.
Emma Kelly/Twitter
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

An Irish college student who is spending her summer as a restaurant hostess in Chicago waited on an unlikely guest earlier this week when Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar stopped by for dinner. The 20-year-old woman didn’t recognize Varadkar at first and took to Twitter to tell her story, much to the delight of folks following the encounter back in Ireland. Emma Kelly has been in Chicago for two and a half months and works as a hostess at Barcocina, 2901 N. Sheffield Ave., in Wrigleyville

Kelly placed Varadkar, the most-powerful politician in her native land, on the wait list and then sat him at a tiny table. Varadkar needed a table for three. Voters elected him as PM in June.

A coworker had to tell Kelly that she had exiled the Irish PM to tiny table. Before Kelly apologized and posed for the photo posted above, they moved him to a bigger table. Kelly told an Irish radio talk show host, Ryan Tubridy, that the PM ordered shrimp tacos and sautéed cauliflower. Despite Kelly’s embarrassment, Varadkar was impressed by her and the restaurant.

Kelly said she’s studying biomedical science at Maynooth University in Ireland. Since the incident, she said her friends and family have been making fun of her back home, adding that she’s in Chicago for fun and will also travel the country. She was taken aback and didn’t expect to see the Irish PM outside of the country, but she’s thankful that Varadkar was understanding.


2901 North Sheffield Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 687-9949 Visit Website