Peter McElvanna
Peter McElvanna, general manager and proprietor of The Coopers Tavern in Madison. Michelle Stocker/The Capital Times

Peter McElvanna has found ultra-liberal Democrats and the most conservative of Republicans can agree on at least one thing: good beer.

McElvanna, the general manager and proprietor of The Coopers Tavern, takes them all in at his new spot on the Capitol Square. He owns the West Mifflin Street tavern, which opened Jan. 12, with his wife, Amy Marsman, and Food Fight Restaurant Group.

McElvanna hears his fair share of political gossip due to his proximity to the Capitol — probably more than he’d like — but said he welcomes everybody as long as they are nice and treat his staff with respect.

Where are you from originally?

Ireland. I am from Armagh (Northern Ireland).

Do you think Irish people are lucky?

I think you make your own luck, I don’t know. I mean, if I was lucky I would have won the lottery twice already, but I haven’t. But I’m lucky in love.

How did you meet your wife?

I met my wife in a bar in New York City.  ... We’re having a baby in November.

Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?

No, we don’t. As long as the baby’s healthy I don’t really care. I have a feeling it’ll be a girl. ... As long as there’s 10 fingers and 10 toes, I don’t mind.

So, you get a lot of people from the Capitol. Do you like politics? Do you hear a lot of political gossip?

Yes, you’d be surprised. You’ll be standing at the bar and they’ll be discussing The Edgewater hotel or the new library. ... We get the very conservative Republicans and on the other hand you’ll have, you know, the ultra very far-out total liberal Democrats. So we get it all in here.

Do they tend to order different things, or do they like the same stuff?

They have similar tastes. I wish I could tell you different, but the old-fashioned cocktail is universal, I guess. I mean, people like beer.

How did you decide to have bone marrow on your menu?

In Ireland, you used every part of the animals. If it’s a pig, you use the snout, tail, pig’s knuckles and bone marrow. Different parts of food that maybe people here wouldn’t be familiar with but it’s flavorful. It tastes great. Have you tried the bone marrow?

I haven’t.

Do you like beef soup? Well, the marrow is what flavors the beef soup. 

What do you do when you’re not here?

I do like to fish. When we moved here from New York, I took four months off. The first day I bought a fishing license and a grill. I discovered bratwurst, it saved my life. Good stuff.

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