Career Advice From Owner Of Ireland’s Oldest Pub

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Restaurant owner Paul O’Kane is a highly successful Irish restaurateur who has shared his management and hospitality industry expertise with aspiring business managers and owners..

Paul owns three restaurants in County Down, Northern Ireland and has a wealth of experience in his sector. His restaurants are the Groomsport Inn, The Stables and Ireland’s oldest pub, Grace Neills.

Paul began his hospitality career at the age of 13 with a part time job at a local hotel. When he left school at 16, he went to work full time at the Bellevue Arms in Belfast. Through this job, he was able to work his way up to become the Food Services Manager, finally progressing to the role of Duty Manager at the Marine Court Hotel.. 

After several years building his skills and experience in management, he moved his sights towards business ownership. In 2006 he bought the Stables, followed soon after by the Groomsport Inn. These establishments were highly successful, allowing Paul to make the ambitious acquisition of Ireland’s oldest bar, Grace Neills in Donaghadee. The bar had been derelict for some time, but as a highly experienced proprietor it was well within his skillset to breathe new life into the pub.

When it comes to owning and managing a restaurant, Paul had some fantastic advice to aspiring restaurant owners:

“I feel to have your own place, you have to be on the ground. If the staff see you working hard, they’ll work hard. You gain respect from that and whenever you’re chatting to the customers and working. Every customer likes to see that.

“Staff are so important and we should tell them a little more how much we appreciate and respect what they’re doing. I also feel that one of the secrets to success, is that you have to be organised and structured.”

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