March 23, 2017

Backstage at the Egyptian: Interview with Mel Witmer

Interview Conducted by: Kevin Ray – Egyptian Theatre Intern

Mel Witmer is the owner of O’Leary’s Ale House in Downtown DeKalb. I had a chance to interview him about his Pub & Grill as well as the show they are partnering with us for Friday March 24th Gaelic Storm.

Kevin: So Mel, tell me a little bit about the history of O’Learys?

Mel: We originally started in Dixon, Illinois in 2000. I always had a passion to open up an O’Leary’s brand because my mothers maiden name is O’Leary. I come from a long bloodline of Irish. I always loved the theme of the Irish. They are well spirited with great jokes, and just an all around great group of folks.


Kevin: What are some of your favorite memories of Gaelic Storm’s performances here at the Egyptian Theatre?

Mel: You know, I’m always sensitive to the first one. That was my first impression of what they were all about. Gaelic Storm has a cult like following, they have fans that will follow them around everywhere. They always make sure their shows are affordable, and I really like that about them because they are so humble and down to earth. They always come back to O’Leary’s after the concert to sign autographs and be very interactive with the fans. It really has turned into a friendship where we keep in contact with them.

Kevin: How has the Egyptian Theatre benefited your business?

Mel: The Egyptian Theatre has always benefited my business. When there is activity at the Egyptian Theatre, all of the businesses benefit. Alex has taken things to the next level and has been instrumental in the success of that theatre. It is a very unique theatre because there are not many of them like it. I think it is unfortunate that people who have grown up in DeKalb County have never gotten the chance to experience the magic this theatre has to offer.

Kevin: What are you looking forward to most for this show?

Mel: I am looking forward to the large groups of people that will be having social happiness, and getting to know and getting along with other people who they may have not met yet. It is a giant party where everyone is making new friends and celebrating with old friends. I always look forward to all of it, they bring a little bit of a twist to it every year.

Kevin:  If you could pick any show or performer to see at the Egyptian Theatre, who would it be and why?

Mel: I sure do love Ron White. He was such a great character. I think who ever comes to the Egyptian attracts multiple demographic and I think that is very important because it brings people together who would normally not be around each other.

Click here to learn more about O’Leary’s Ale House

Tickets are still available for Gaelic Storm. Click picture below to purchase tickets.