Being from Greystones myself, having grown up here and called it (the best) home for 25 years, I felt it was time to get to know some more of the great cafés and restaurants lining our streets.
The Three Q’s restaurant on Church Road in Greystones has been serving food and winning over customers here since 2006. I caught up with Paul Quinn, front of house manager and one of the three brothers who own and run the Three Q’s in Greystones. I started by asking him how he got into the food business.
“I worked since I was 15 in restaurants, starting at the bottom washing dishes and worked my way up, worked with both of my brothers for quite a while and then it got to a stage where we were sick of working for other people, sick of seeing their mismanagement and we thought to ourselves, hey, we could do it better than that.”
This led the brothers to approach the bank in Greystones with a proposal, and as were the times in 2006, the bank got on board. That’s not to say there was any lack of thought gone into setting up the Three Q’s; it takes a lot to make a restaurant stay around for 10 years, especially through some bad times.
Paul himself, like his two brothers, is a chef, but on starting the restaurant they knew that too many cooks would spoil the broth. As a result, Paul put his hand up and opted to manage the front of house. Having never done a day on the floor in his life it was a big jump, but one that Paul is happy he took. I always feel there’s a great sense of continuity when I walk past the restaurant, almost daily, and see Paul plying his trade inside the big open windows of his restaurant.
While Paul makes menu suggestions based on customer feedback, he finds that it’s easier for him to stay on the floor and let his brothers do their thing in the kitchen. He is a passionate foody though, with his own foraging business growing steadily.
The Restaurant is also a wholly family affair, with the name The Three Q’s, if you hadn’t already guessed it, being short for The Three Quinn’s. I asked Paul about this and about the subtle hints to this family feeling on his menu.
“My mum still washes the tea towels and makes the bread and the scones, she does the supply run as well. My wife works here, so does my brother in law, he’s a chef in the kitchen too. It’s very much a family business, with things we’ve brought up from our childhood that show up on the menu, things we enjoyed eating as kids, and there’s a sense of pride in that.”
Being a local restaurant , Paul and his brothers do try to source as much local produce as possible, but realises it can be tricky to find these depending on season. What I love about the Three Q’s is that they don’t buy in anything like ketchup, mayo, jam or marmalade. It’s all made from scratch.
“It’s the authenticity of it but it’s also the fact that you can’t get it anywhere else. It’s been a major draw. Little things like the ketchup and the relish , it’s amazing how people can go , ‘I want it!’ We do have a market for it we just don’t have time to tap into it at the moment, but that’s in the pipeline aswell.”
Being from Greystones myself, I was interested to know if people in the town are eating out enough to keep a restaurant going. Turns out they are. Most of the restaurants business is repeat business, speaking to the quality of their food and atmosphere, but in the summer a lot of day trippers make the journey, having walked the cliff path or similar. I feel that being on the end of the DART line makes Greystones a bit of a destination spot, and that this helps restaurants flourish.
When it comes to marketing and reviews, Paul doesn’t pay a huge amount of attention to them. (The Three Q’s currently has a TripAdvisor rating of 5/5 and Facebook rating of 4.9/5, which Paul says he’ll have to improve upon!) He does say that when it comes to technology he turns the other way though, but he does of course see the value in Social Media to market one’s restaurant.
“It’s relatively free, but I think some people spend too much time on it, you know I think the world can pass you by; it’s not the most important thing. Some businesses rely too heavily on it, to the point where it can take you away from what you’re doing. For me, I don’t have time to do it, it’s different if you’re not hands on, but I am too busy. I would always want to be hands on too, I don’t want to sit back and say ‘oh look, I have 16 restaurants’ and not be involved anymore, you need to be hands on for it to work totally.”
I finished my time with Paul Quinn by asking him about some nice awards the restaurant had won; Best Restaurant in Wicklow in 2014 and Best Causal Restaurant in Wicklow in 2015 and how he felt about them.
“Yeah, you feel pride, you think ‘wow, didn’t expect that.’ Especially the first one, Best Restaurant in Wicklow, I was thinking, Really? We were delighted to win it but we don’t go around canvassing for these things, we don’t get our friends to write brilliant TripAdvisor reviews where maybe others could, we don’t advertise, we kind of just say, here we are, this is what we’re doing, we hope you like it. That’s why an award like that, voted for by the people and the powers that be is great, we’re not sticking our necks out trying to win these things but when it’s recognised, yes it’s brilliant.”
Finally, I wanted to know if there was anything Paul would recommend to aspiring foodies looking to get into the business?
“If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t change anything, I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done, but what I would advise my kids to do, is to get out there and work for free and just keep working. When you’re 20 you think a 5 year sacrifice is a lot. It’s not, when you’re older you see it’s not actually a big sacrifice , but at that age it is. That’s how you get to the top, you put your neck out. I would work at all the top restaurants, I’d move around, then people will go , ‘I’ll back you’. But for me no, we didn’t know we were going to open the restaurant, we just chatted one night and the next day we put together the business plan and went to the bank. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but just put your neck out. Not financially ; if you really want to do it and you can only afford a chipper van , make it the best chipper van ever, because you’re only as good as your last meal.”
We’re glad the brothers got together to get this Greystones gem up and running 11 years ago, and we’re hoping for continued success for them for the next 11 too.
Thanks to Paul for taking the time to talk to me and thanks for reading. SoulSoup.
Check out the Menu here!