Are you guys Irish? OMG, Leo Varadkar made wait for restaurant table

20-year-old from Dublin seated Taoiseach at ‘tiny table’

An Irish J1 student was left feeling "very embarrassed" after not recognising Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a Chicago restaurant she was working in.

Emma Kelly, a 20-year-old from Dublin, said when two men walked into Barcocina restaurant on Sunday night she did not realise one was Mr Varadkar.

“They wanted to sit outside so I told them they’d have to wait. Then I was like ‘oh hey, are you guys Irish’ and they were like ‘yeah’,” she said.

Emma said she put the pair on a waiting list and sent them to the bar before seating them at a “tiny table”.


“They were like ‘oh we have an extra person’. So I was like ‘okay I’ll get you the next bigger table that opens’,” she said.

Emma said meanwhile her friend Eimear, who is from Blanchardstown and also host at the restaurant, told her it was in fact the Taoiseach sitting outside.

“Then I realised my mistake and made her to go out and move them straight away,” she said.

“Afterwards we went up and apologised, and he was super nice .

“I was literally shocked. I couldn’t believe it. So embarrassed. I apologised so much.”

Emma said she could not believe she made the Taoiseach wait for a table.

“He thought it was funny but actually was like it’s nice being treated like a normal person,” she said.

Emma’s tweet about not recognising the Taoiseach has attracted a lot of attention.

“Honestly what is wrong with me,” she tweeted.

She posted a photograph of the “painfully awkward pic” that was taken once she realised it was the Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar responded on Twitter: “Thanks Emma. The food & service was gr8. Enjoy the rest of your J1”.

Emma said she was delighted to get a response from the Taoiseach online.

“Hahaha officially my fave Taoiseach.” Emma tweeted later.

Emma , who is studying biomedical science in Maynooth, has lived in Chicago for the last three months and said she will always remember the chance encounter.

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is Digital Features Editor and journalist with The Irish Times