Since high school, when he worked full-time for an electrical company, inspired by his father's determined example, Sean Conroy has always juggled multiple gigs.
He started his own printing business, went into financial advising for several years, and consistently bartended and ran bars and restaurants.
Last March, Conroy and his team of local co-owners and managers launched SouthSide Tavern, a restaurant in Braintree Square that combines Conroy's vision of an open bar, wide window South Boston design with the culinary talents of Chef Danny Duarte, another Braintree native who began cooking Portugese and Cape Verde food with his grandmother.
"I'm proud," Conroy said. "It came out exactly the way I wanted."
The primary vision, Conroy said, was to create a restaurant where people felt at home. After taking over the building from J.J. Mulligan's a year ago, Conroy and his team did an extensive re-model, and opened a few months later to brisk business.
They used as many local resources as possible, Conroy said, from the electrician and plumber to Braintree Lumber. Many of the restaurant's 50 employees are from Braintree.
To keep SouthSide fresh, over the past year the owners have painted twice and revamped the menu.
"We've been doing well," Conroy said. "But it's a lot of hard work too. I don't want it to get stale."
Conroy brings many years of restaurant experience to SouthSide. His first job in the industry was bartending at the Alumni Cafe in Wollaston. He also worked at Marina Bay and owned a place in Quincy for a time. About three years ago, his friend John Manning encouraged Conroy to get involved with the Southside Tavern in Quincy.
Manning, along with Duarte and Matthew Kielty, who was running The Playwright Bar in South Boston at the time, became the core of Conroy's management and ownership team in Braintree. They focused on the neighborhood atmosphere, but also the food – as Conroy likes to say, "The only things that come in frozen are the french fries and the ice cream."
"I've always wanted a place in Braintree," Conroy said. "I'm from Braintree. I want to be proud of it."
Now that Conroy is a father himself, he appreciates the value of the flexibility that comes with running his own restaurant. He still maintains that high energy that brought him into the food industry – participating in community events throughout Braintree and running his printing business – but increasingly seeks time with his two-and-a-half-year-old son Camden, who is a hit with customers and staff at SouthSide.
"I didn't want to miss him growing up," Conroy said.
And his father, the one who raised Conroy and his two older sisters after his mom died, working construction for FEMA and serving in the National Guard? He lives in Florida, but makes a point to visit SouthSide when he comes to town.
"He's my number one cheerleader," Conroy said.