Jay Kudla and Sam Darlington opened Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen and Microbrewery in early 2021 with the goal of creating an authentic Irish pub experience.

Both have backgrounds in construction and real estate, and they met while working on a project together. Conversation eventually turned to their shared dream of owning a pub. Shortly thereafter they set in motion events that would lead to Cork & Barrel’s creation.

Darlington grew up in Ireland and lived there for 30 years before moving to Texas. Kudla said Darlington’s life experiences served as the basis for what they wanted Cork & Barrel to be—a blend of familiar Texan and genuine Irish atmospheres.

The two began working on Cork & Barrel in 2018 and opened in March 2021. From design to construction, Kudla and Darlington did most of the work themselves.

From the floating fireplaces to the historical plaques to the Irish stained glass, careful thought went into every feature of Cork & Barrel, they said.

“It really was a labor of love,” Kudla said. “We decided if we’re going to do this, we want to do it our way, so we spent more money on things we probably shouldn’t have to make it unique.”

The pub offers an array of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails, including five beers brewed in house at the pub’s microbrewery.

Cork & Barrel has a food menu consisting of pub classics, including fish and chips and garlic pretzels as well as options such as pizza, reuben sandwiches and french onion soup.

“It’s a pub menu, so it’s not huge because we’re still a pub at heart, but every single menu item is unique,” Kudla said.

The pub is split into three main spaces. Inside, the cork room is geared toward an Irish pub experience. Several Irish artifacts are housed in the room, and it has private booths customers can reserve.

Next to the cork room is the chef’s counter. There, customers have a view into the kitchen, which contains a pizza oven modeled after the boiler of the Titanic.

Outside, Cork & Barrel has a patio and beer garden with a pavilion and a live music stage.

“It comes back to the whole mindset that we’re trying to create an experience,” Kudla said. “[Darlington’s] life has been amazing, and to be able to make this place a microscope of his life has been pretty fun.”

Cork & Barrel Pub

4000 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock


Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Closed Monday