JULIE’S DINER, BANTRY, Co. CORK
Julie Ward opened Julie’s Diner in Bantry, Co. Cork over thirty years ago. A big difference between now and then, she says, is that people used to eat a lot later. Bantry is a tourist destination in the summer and she loves meeting people from different cultures.
What is your name? Julie Ward
What is the name of your takeaway? Julie’s Diner, Bantry
How long has your takeaway been open? We opened here in 1985. Previously I worked in hotels in the UK and I was also catering manager in Heathrow. I wanted to come back to Cork, where I’m from, so I took the opportunity to open here.
What services do you offer customers? We’re a sit-down – we seat 17 downstairs and 35-40 upstairs. We’re open 12 noon-midnight and a bit later weekends, and we have a good varied menu.
What’s your bestselling item (besides chips?) Fresh fish, delivered from our local supplier
What kind of fish do you serve? Haddock, cod, whiting, and scampi
What, in your opinion, makes your shop unique to your customers? We’re a very long-established business and we give great personal service. And the food, of course, is of the highest quality
What do you most like about the job? I really like meeting new people from different cultures.
What is your busiest time during the year? Bantry gets a lot of tourists in the summer. We’re very busy right through to the end of August. Christmas is also busy.
What’s the biggest challenge facing you in business at the moment? The biggest challenge is all the overheads associated with employing people, and the rates
What is competition like in the area? There is quite a lot of competition but competition is healthy and we have loyal customers
You’re over thirty years in the business – have you noticed any changes in the way people eat? Yes, certainly, a big change would be in the hours – people tend not to be out so late and they eat earlier. Also, young people now are interested in healthy eating – wraps, steaks, and chicken.
How are things going for you this year? Have you noticed an upturn? Yes, finally the upturn is reaching us. It’s not a huge change but things are a bit better this year.
Is there anything the government could be doing to make your life easier? They could reduce PRSI for staff, and the Council could reduce rates
If you could invite someone famous to dinner who would it be? Nathan Carter – he’s a country and western singer and I hear he likes fish n’ chips…
How do you manage the work-life balance? I’m not sure that I do! It’s 90 percent work and 10 percent family. But I do manage to take some holidays.
Have you done anything recently to help grow your business? We’re currently working on new menu board with Big Al’s and introducing new items – the pulled pork is going very well
What tip would you give someone coming into this industry? Work hard, please the customers and you’ll get there. And treat staff well – they’re essential to your success. I’m very proud that we have the same staff here for years.
How do you advertise new menu items? Through Point of Sale and word of mouth – we’re here over 30 years so we’re well known.
Do you have a business motto? If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t serve it.