Santa Clara University

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Bronco Profiles


The Ideal Pub

undefinedWhat’ll it be? Co-owners Johnny Hannegan, left, and Chris Benson preside over their namesake pub. Photo: Charles Barry

In 1979, John “Johnny” Hannegan ’72 and his friend Chris Benson took out loans at 17 percent interest to finance their dream: an American pub with Irish flavor. They set up shop in the hills above Silicon Valley, on Bachman Avenue in downtown Los Gatos. Thirty years later, C.B. Hannegan’s is going strong and “embraces all the people who come in through the front door,” Benson says. “Or the back door.”

Walls are covered in photos of patrons, rugby gear, Irish politicians, and exchange students from Listowel, Ireland—Los Gatos’ sister city. There is a photo of Hannegan and Benson with Willie Nelson. Nearby, a memorial tribute from the Oct. 20, 1983, edition of The Santa Clara newspaper hangs opposite the bar: two full pages honoring Pat Carroll, S.J., a much-loved member of the Santa Clara Jesuit Community and, in his own words, “a very stubborn, sensitive, and sentimental Irishman.”

The dream of creating a local pub that would serve as a neighborhood gathering place began with Hannegan’s love of pubs and rugby and Benson’s love of “the good food”—pizza, barbecue, fish and chips. The two men struck up a friendship a few years after Hannegan graduated from Santa Clara and was working at Mountain Charley’s, a local bar. They’d gotten to know each other, talked about their dreams, and most important, discovered “each other’s drink of choice,” as Benson puts it.

Their site in Silicon Valley means the pub draws an international crowd as well as locals. And more than a few visiting Irish dignitaries have been known to pay a call. “Johnny’s the ambassador’s ambassador,” Benson says. Hannegan shrugs and says, “Under the Clinton Administration, we’d get calls sometimes from Irish politicians visiting White House saying they’d rather be back at our pub.”

When I spent an evening at the pub earlier this year, the Emerald Isle was represented by Jimmy Deenihan, a Fine Gael politician and former Gaelic football star, who was there visiting from County Kerry. His take on C.B. Hannegan’s? “It’s the best pub in the world,” he gushed. “There’s no pub like it, even in Ireland.”

St. Patrick’s Day is, naturally, celebrated in epic proportions. The city of Los Gatos lets the pub shut down the street so more people can join the party. You won’t find any green beer. You will find all the barbecue (chicken, ribs, pork, hot links) and oysters you can eat, plus three stages featuring live entertainment. Among the groups this year: The Workhouse Poets—featuring Lawrence Elrod ’71 and James Foley ’68 (full disclosure: they’re my father and godfather, respectively)—bagpiper Richard Katz, and a troupe of Irish dancers.

Hannegan and Benson try to foster a family atmosphere in the pub. It seems to be working. Veteran bartender Tom Owens has been with them for 28 years. That, and Benson says, “You know you’re doing it right when the sons and daughters of people who helped create and sustain this place are now working here.”

But it is work, they concede. And, Hannegan says, “It’s not easy having this much fun.”

Emily Elrod '05


Workhouse Poets

From their Ghost Train release:

I'll Be Home by Midnight (3:51)

 
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Ghost Train (3:56)

 
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Island queen: Miss Hawaii—Nicole Ka‘ili Fox ’06

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Crowd pleaser: Fox performs a traditional Tahitian dance in the 2009 Miss America Pageant.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The finale of the three-night competition came on July 11, 2008. Nicole Fox performed a hula to “Malie’s Song (Hawaiian Lullaby)” and spoke on behalf of Promoting Educational Achievement in Kids (PEAK). And, at the Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, out of 19 contestants, she was the one chosen to wear the crown of Miss Hawaii.

At first she was at a loss for words. “And then I thought: Why did I not pay more attention to where I was supposed to go?” she said. The answer, of course: on the road as Miss Hawaii—and to the 83rd Miss America Pageant.

While Fox was born and raised in Santa Clara, her parents made Hawaiian culture a part of her upbringing. Her father spoke Hawaiian to her and her siblings “when he didn’t want others to know what we were talking about” and at the age of 5, Fox began taking hula lessons.

While attending SCU, Fox showcased her love of Island dance, performing in shows hosted by the Multicultural Center. She taught English to immigrants and helped direct SCU’s Youth Empowerment Program, which links the Undergraduate Admissions Office with appropriate student-led organizations to encourage high school students of color to pursue a university education. She also studied abroad in New Zealand and traveled for two months throughout India, Thailand, and Japan. In the past three years, she’s traveled to 15 countries, volunteered in the Middle East and parts of Asia, and taught at an orphanage for HIV-positive children in Ethiopia.

She was named Miss Santa Clara 2006, Miss San Jose 2007, and, after moving to Honolulu, Miss Island Oahu 2008. She’s also competed twice in the Miss California Pageant. As Miss Hawaii, Fox continues to advocate for PEAK and has worked with Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit community organization.

Center stage

After months of priming for Miss America, complete with filming TLC’s “Countdown to the Crown”—a reality show that housed the 52 contestants on the Queen Mary ocean liner and followed them in pageant preparation challenges—came the national pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Fox wowed the crowd during the talent segment by performing a spectacular o‘te‘a, a traditional Tahitian dance, and moved into the top-10.

Miss Indiana Katie Stam ultimately took home the crown. But Fox was thrilled to make it to the semifinal round to be named a Quality of Life Award finalist for excellence in volunteerism. And with her experiences from the pageants, coupled with her degrees in business management and cultural anthropology from SCU, she hopes to obtain a masters degree in education administration and become a teacher.

“Having an opportunity to give back helps you understand and re-prioritize what you value,” she says.

Alicia K. Gonales

Kelley Lund '05

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Photo: Charles Barry

Occupation: Founder and owner of Blondie’s Frozen Yogurt & Ice Cream, which opened in 2007. You can find her behind the counter on weekdays, even covering shifts for her staff—who are mostly SCU students—when there’s a big weekend party.

The Blondie’s vibe: “We really try to interact with our customers—we have so many “regulars” and repeat customers that we really get to know people. It’s more of a corner store ice cream parlor than a get-your-yogurt-and-go place.”

Hometown: Lodi, Calif. (pop. 61,695). She’s got a big extended family who calls the Central Valley home, too.

Age: 26

Hobbies: Running, relaxing with her boyfriend at home, reading (currently Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery), and playing with her yellow lab, Gus, in the park. “He’s 5 months old, and so fun!” she gushes.

Wall art: Her décor muse comes from Hawaii, where her mom and dad live for part of the year. While she selected the bright color scheme for the store, her mom created all the tropical paintings—“I just painted the walls!” she confesses.

Favorite artist: “I love the blown glass by Dale Chihuly, especially the movement he captures in his pieces.” In particular, she’s keen on his color-packed baskets, dishes, and cylinders.

Latest accomplishment: For the past six months, a knee injury kept her from running—“Coming back from knee surgery has been really tough for me, so finally having full use of my muscles and getting back into running has been a real accomplishment for me.”

“Fro yo” quote: “The day that I bought the machines I actually got to fulfill a dream by sticking my head under one and pouring yogurt straight into my mouth!”

Personality: Energetic, a great listener, and passionate in all her ventures, she considers herself one of the “regulars” who just happens to sport the Blondie’s uniform.

Favorite flavor: Irish Mint

Alicia K. Gonzales



Snapshot

Age: 24
Favorite accessory: Her rhinestone leopard print watch
Web time: A "news and politics junkie," she was also a blogger for the San Jose Sharks.
Did you know...? The dressing are for the Miss America contestants is located outside the venue. When it began to rain at this year's pageant, "we had a couple of volunteers holding tarps above our heads so we could walk through."
Most embarrassing moment: Her crowning as Miss Hawaii. "I went through probably about 40 different facial expressions and not a single one of them was attractive. To top it all off, my crown actually fell off my head."

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