By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 31, 2010 at 11:02 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

If you've driven past 2nd and National Avenue lately, you've probably noticed the progress on an attractive new building taking shape just west of Fat Daddy's.

With a large addition on to the back, the space is double what it once was and with the new windows, faux-stone siding and stylish signage reading The Dubliner, the new gastropub is quickly becoming a pleasant sight from the outside.

And chances are, you're likely to be just as impressed when you step inside, once owner Jerry Stenstrup -- who also owns the Walker's Point staple, Steny's, across the street -- opens to the public in mid-February. He's commissioned Milwaukee-area artist Chris Vincent to paint a vast mural of the Irish countryside's rolling hills and crumbling castles merging with downtown Dublin and the world-famous Guinness brewery.

The 30-ft. work of art, which takes its inspiration from Stenstrup's recent trip to the Emerald Isle, lines a wall adjacent to a comfortable seating area and fireplace, just past the bar area in the front.

Vincent says the project took her less than a week to paint. The only part she has left to finish is to incorporate real lights where the downtown light posts are painted into the mural, adding to the drama of an already stunning piece.

"You learn to be efficient, especially in this economy," she says. "What I've learned with mural work is that a more romantic look makes a better mural, rather than detail, detail, detail."

She's been a muralist in the Greater Milwaukee area for 10 years and an artist twice as long, having indulged her creative side with graphic design before starting her own business, Murals By Design, and making painting and faux finishing her full-time career.

Around town, her contemporary impressionalist work can be seen on the walls of Verlo Matress on Layton Avenue, the Pewaukee Public Library and a set of office buildings in West Bend. It was during her time working on a Latino mural for One Source Staffing located on 12th and National Avenue that she met Stenstrup. During her lunch break at nearby Steny's, he took notice of her sketches and immediately recruited her for his forthcoming Irish pub across the street.

This isn't the first time Milwaukee's had a Dubliner. The original one, also located in Walker's Point at 922 S. Second St., closed more than a decade ago. Stenstrup says it's time to revive the bar, and with the city's rich Irish history, it makes sense. He plans to host his grand opening party in time for St. Patrick's Day.

Once the weather warms, expect even more expansion. Stenstrup also owns the large parking lot on the northeast corner of 2nd and National and says he'll use part of it to create an outdoor beer garden for The Dubliner.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”