Sitting in a booth at O’Malley’s Pub & Grill in Sylva, Stanberry has been the owner of the establishment since 2002. With the location celebrating 18 years in business this year, Stanberry aims to continue the long tradition of being the “everyday place for everybody.”
“I want folks to feel that they’re at a local sports pub, that’s friendly, where you can come in by yourself and feel part of a group or come in with 25 of closest friends and have a party together,” she said.
Raised in nearby Canton, Stanberry went to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. While pursuing her degree, she started serving at O’Malley’s. After graduating in 1999, she left the area to see what was out there. But, before she got too far away, O’Malley’s offered her a manager position. Returning to Sylva, Stanberry enjoyed her time at the restaurant, and this next phase of her career there proved bountiful.
“The original owner wanted to sell, and I knew that I loved this place, so I bought it. I figured if I could manage it, I could own it,” she chuckled.
Once she took charge of O’Malley’s, Stanberry made it a personal mission to maintain the familiar ambiance loyal customers come for, but also keep things fresh, with their beloved, ever-changing menu being a main priority.
“We specialize in hot wings, burgers, fried green tomatoes, things like that. It’s American pub food, but we are always adding more things and tweaking our menu,” she said.
Alongside the culinary delights, Stanberry also makes sure that the live music component of O’Malley’s stays strong. Fan favorite local acts and college bands overtake the patio stage on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year. With all of those aspects thriving, O’Malley’s is still going strong.
“18 years being open is a long time, but it goes to show you that there have a been a lot of bars and restaurants that have come and gone,” Stanberry said. “We’ve weathered the storm, and we have that niche that people like. We’ll always try to keep that niche.”
Surrounding O’Malley’s and greater Sylva are the majestic Great Smoky Mountains. Standing outside the building, one can turn in any direction to see the natural beauty of Western North Carolina.
“Everything in Sylva is growing. People want to retire here. Students graduate from WCU and want to stay here. We have microbreweries down the road and live music all over,” Stanberry said. “It’s a beautiful place here. I’ve traveled all over and I still want to be here — this is my home.”