Monday 11 December 2017

Grandchildren keep up the family tradition

Derval, Derek and Emma Keane at The Plough coffee shop in Skerries.
Derval, Derek and Emma Keane at The Plough coffee shop in Skerries.

A SKERRIES family that has been synonymous with good food and hospitality for almost 50 years in the town are back in business as a new generation of the Keane family embark on a new adventure as proprietors of The Plough coffee shop.

The newest eaterie in Skerries is just four months old and is run by the latest generation of the family, Emma, Derval and Derek Keane – but the Keane family go back way further than that in providing food and a warm welcome to customers in this coastal town.

The three siblings' grandmother, Nora, got into the hospitality business in Skerries in the late '60s when as a recent widower, she purchased what became the Windmill Restaurant.

The large restaurant with its function room, became the venue for many a family party from birthdays to weddings in Skerries over the next three decades.

Peter and Marie Keane, took the business over when Nora passed away and continued to operate the Windmill until the late '90s when the restaurant and function room, finally closed its doors.

But now, Peter and Marie's offspring are taking up the family tradition and abandoning their day jobs to operate The Plough at a new location on Balbriggan Street, serving great fresh food every day and home-made cakes are a speciality.

Emma Keane spoke to the Fingal Independent about the new venture and remembered how she learned the catering trade at a young age at the family business.

'We didn't live on the premises (at The Windmill) but were too close to pretend we were not home. We did the dishes and every other kind of job there and learned everything from what goes on behind the scenes, hygiene and everything it takes to run a business like that. It was a great way to grow up,' Emma said.

She joked: 'Obviously, over the years we forgot how hard work it is or we might have thought twice!'

Emma has trained in the catering business at Ballymaloe and at the Red Bank in Skerries but all three siblings had regular day jobs working in youth detention centres.

They gave up those jobs to launch the new coffee shop and according to Emma, there was no shortage of people telling them they were crazy to do it.

She said: 'Everyone told us we were crazy but we were right to do it. If we hadn't tried it we would never know and we would still be wandering around coffee shops thinking "what if"?'

But while she admits the siblings had an 'idealistic' view of the business, she is happy with how the first four months have gone and optimistic for the future.

'Myself and Derval have been thinking about doing this for a long time and we would often talk about it as we went around visiting various coffee shops.

'The first four months have been good. It was a bit hit and miss and trial and error for a while but we are evolving the whole time, constantly evolving and trying new ideas,' Emma told the Fingal Independent.

'At the moment we are all about fresh, home-made cakes. All the food we serve is prepared and cooked here. We have delicious honey baked ham and a selection of salads daily and we are working on a new menu at the moment.

'I am optimistic for the future – we have to be, we have put an awful lot into this and now we have to make it work.'

With the family history in the town and all that heritage they bring into the new business, the Keane siblings are sure to be a success and if you are down that way then The Plough is well worth a visit to enjoy some of the delicious fresh fayre, they have on offer.

Fingal Independent

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