Bondings: Brothers 'married to juice'
They always got on well growing up, and now brothers Jack and Theo Kirwan are running a juice business together
Growing up with five older siblings and half-siblings, Jack Kirwan, founder of juice company Sprout & Co, never wanted to boss his younger brother Theo around. "Theo and I always got on well and shared clothes and stuff," he says. "I didn't tell him how to live his life, because I knew what it was like to have older siblings telling you what to do. Theo is very witty, and most people find him charming and funny. He has a great inner drive, and we both have strong opinions."
Jack, 26, and Theo, 24, are the youngest of Tony Kirwan and Siobhan O'Dwyer's three sons, and have an older brother Ben, who is a musician and writer. Their parents are both entrepreneurial, as their dad is a solicitor who is executive director of The Law Firm Network, while their mum is the founder and CEO of O'Dwyer Property Management.
Jack and Theo enjoyed growing up in a big, extended family, as their dad has a son, Sam, and daughter, Amy, from a previous marriage, who lived with the boys for a period when they were growing up. He also has two daughters, Eleni and Claudia, from two previous relationships. Jack and Theo are the youngest of his seven children. "There were four mums and seven kids altogether," explains Theo. "It was great having so many older sisters and brothers to get advice from growing up, and we all get on really well together."
Food and cooking was a big family interest, which is what ultimately inspired Sprout & Co. When the boys were 10 and 12, respectively, their parents split up, and they moved with their mum from Shankill to Blackrock. She's a great person, they say, and the lynchpin of the entire family. They saw their dad every Wednesday and Saturday, where he made dinner for them, and all maintain a great relationship. Their dad has since remarried, and his wife is called Ann.
The handsome brothers were very sporty growing up, and played hockey at a very high level. They recently took it up again with the Rathgar Chiefs team. After school at St. Andrew's, Jack chose to go to Loughborough University in the UK to study economics and international relations, as it's renowned as a sporting university. He then decided to train as a chef, and worked and trained in the kitchens of the Avoca chain of stores for two and a half years.
Then, an opportunity arose for Jack to acquire a concession there, and he decided to open a juice bar. Sprout & Co. was born a year and a half ago, and is based at Avoca, Rathcoole. It aims to provide the most nutritionally dense, cold pressed juices and smoothies to customers, and the team has worked hard on creating juices that are tasty, pure, unprocessed and carefully sourced from local vegetable suppliers. Many people swear by their detoxing and cleansing qualities.
Having studied drama at DIT and lived in London for a year, Theo has now become involved in the business too. He is still involved in drama, but is great on the marketing and social networking side of the business, says Jack. He also worked in a high-end gastropub while in London, which gave him valuable experience with food.
Jack's best friend Alex Thompson has also been involved in Sprout since the beginning, and there is now a team of 10 people employed in the business. There has to be, as production of the juices starts at 3am, with all members of staff in by 6am. They work together on producing the juices seven days per week as they are now available in 24 locations, so it's all hands on deck to get the products freshly-pressed and delivered. The brothers say that as the team is young and dynamic, they don't have a huge wealth of experience behind them, and find their parents a great help with advice. Their mum's partner Paul has a background in finance, and he has also been very helpful to them.
"Our parents probably think it's all a bit mad, to be honest," smiles Theo. "Mum is really into fitness, and she is always dying for us to bring home cleanses and juices."
Sprout & Co. is delighted to be featured this month in the inaugural launch of 'Bake, Cook Dine' at Arnotts. A series of exciting and innovative in-store events and demonstrations will take place in the store's kitchen department throughout the month, and the line-up includes a variety of talent, from chefs to food bloggers and food entrepreneurs. They will be showcasing how to create delicious dishes and juices, describing the best wine pairings, and demonstrating how to make your own healthy meals and snacks. Jack is delighted to be giving a juicing masterclass in-store next Saturday, alongside food demonstrations by model Daniella Moyles and Stephen O'Dwyer both of The Breakfast Club, and Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton.
While they work hard together, Jack and Theo say they get on very well, even when the pressure is on in the kitchen. "We shout the odd time, but we are very open with one another," laughs Theo. "Jack has a clear vision and is very dedicated, focused and organised. He's a very happy person, and we have always had a very good relationship as brothers, but mainly as good friends."
The boys and their pals socialise together in a group, and love going out for Japanese food on Friday nights. Sprout is hoping to open an outlet in Dublin city centre for fast, healthy food this summer, so the brothers are busy planning and developing it. They are moving in to live together shortly, and amazingly, as both are young, handsome and charming, they are currently single. "We are married to juice," sighs Jack. "I don't know if girls want to go out with guys who have to get up for work every day at half past four in the morning."
Jack Kirwan from Sprout & Co will give a juice masterclass next Saturday from 1-2 pm at Arnotts, as part of its Bake Cook Dine month. See full schedule on www.arnotts.ie