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In the chicken coop with Summerville’s of Greystones

14 Jun

In the chicken coop is a new series for the blog. Throughout the series I will be chatting to various business owners in the food and hospitality industry.

Summervilles of Greystones

Summerville’s of Greystones

 

The first business featured in this series is Summerville’s of Greystones. I recently sat down with business partners Katie and Niamh and had a very enjoyable chat about their business. It was a glorious day down in Greystones and we sat in the beautiful garden out the back of the restaurant. If you visit and there is sunny weather this would be a fantastic spot to enjoy lunch, surrounded by the bird-life in the garden!

I started by asking about the history of  Summerville’s:

Niamh: “My aunt and uncle owned it. Then about five or six years ago, myself and my sister bought it. Then about a year and a half ago Katie became my partner.  Katie runs the kitchen and I do front of house, accounts, wages and tweeting.”

Katie and Niamh

Katie and Niamh

 

Did you change much when you took over?

Katie: “We redecorated a little bit- we wanted to keep the country/cottagy vibe and brighten it up a little bit. We also reorganised the kitchen. Everything is made on site and for this you need more space and flow in the kitchen, but we still have a wish list of changes we’d like to make!”

Niamh: “We changed our menu quite a lot, we talked to our customers about what they wanted. Before there were no sandwiches or lighter options, now we have a wrap and sandwich menu. We also have a lot of salads and soups.”

Katie: “We also put a lot of work into our gluten-free options- We have a gluten-free multi seed bread. We try to do gluten-free treats. There’s always a gluten-free brownie and apple+almond cake. You just have to keep updating really.”

What’s the signature dish/ your favourites?

Niamh: “Chicken Summerville is the signature. It sounds a bit weird- but in reality it’s lovely. It’s chicken, rice, celery and onion in a chicken and mushroom sauce, topped with corn flakes and mixed nuts, baked. The soup and salad combo is very popular. That suits the younger demographic that are a big part of the local community in Greystones. In terms of my favourite dish, I’d have to pick from our new nighttime menu and go for the smoked mackerel pâté with pickled vegetables.”

Katie: “Our pot pies are also very popular, we try to keep them interesting. Our soups are all stock based, so they are suitable for people with dairy or gluten allergies. I have a very sweet tooth, so my favourite would have to be the carrot cake. It’s actually my mum’s recipe.”

 

As an aside, you mentioned how popular your healthier options are, what do you think about calorie counts on menus?

Niamh: “We were only debating that a few weeks ago- I feel it could be a little off-putting. Also it’s really hard to be accurate.  I think people are very health conscious now though so they know a salad is better than something with pastry. Things like specials- it would be impossible to put a calorie count on that.”

Katie: “We keep toying with it- but it’s hard to be accurate. You hope that people ultimately have a bit of common sense.”

 

In a town like Greystones, repeat customers must be important?

Katie: “They are, we’re very lucky in that regard. At the weekend we get a mixture of customers, but we get a lot of regulars during the week. People come in for our scones in the morning. There are a lot of young families in Greystones- a lot of mums and kids come in regularly so it’s great to see the kids growing up.”

 

There’s a lot of good food in Greystones- why do you think this is?

Katie: “I think it’s because there is a market for it. People are really into their food and their wine here. There has to be that market for us to all exist. There is competition- there are about 20 different places to get a cup of coffee- so it is really important we are confident and happy with what we are serving. The businesses do what they do and do it well. So there is a nice variety of places to go.”

 

I noticed you have some great staff profiles on your website- quite a diverse bunch!?

Niamh: “We try to get a family feel here-  most of our staff are here for a while. They may have zero experience when they apply- but if they are nice they can get the job. Katie and I always interview together. We expect a lot from them,  but we also work all the shifts, so our staff see us doing the same jobs they do, which we feel is important.”

 

Any future developments for Summerville’s?

Niamh: “We just started opening evenings. We’ve always done private functions at night which we cater. Birthday parties etc. But we have just started Friday and Saturday nights. We wanted to chose something different that we would like- so we settled on an antipasti menu. We do three types of boards:  fish, cheese, and a meat board. La Touche wines nearby supply the wine.”

Katie: “We spent a lot of time choosing the wines, you can get a nice bottle of Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc for €17. We were determined to keep it really competitive. We both hate going to restaurants and getting charged outrageous amounts for a bottle of wine.”

(In the chicken coop- will feature some silly questions for each business to get a common thread running through. Feel free to suggest some in the comment section!)

I started by asking:

Is the customer always right?

Niamh: “We say that the customer is always right even when they are wrong! Seriously though, as there is a competitive market in Greystones, we need to be known for being friendly and having a professional rapport with our customers.”

 

Is the Jaffa cake a cake or a biscuit?

Katie: “Cake- it’s too spongy. There needs to be a snap to be a biscuit.

Niamh: “I would dunk it in tea, therefore a biscuit.”

 

I’d like to thank Niamh and Katie for taking time out of their day to talk to me. It was great to meet two people so passionate about their business. If you want to keep up to date with all that’s happening in Summerville’s you can follow them on twitter: @summervillefood.

(All photos courtesy of Summerville’s of Greystones)

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