Arthur Leahy and Deirdre Martin as Quay Coop celebrated 40 years. Photos: Marcin Lewandowski

Quay Coop celebrates 40 years

The Quay Coop turned 40 this month, a great achievement for any business but more so for a restaurant (we don’t have that many left).

The restaurant and shop have withstood the tests of times, 2 recessions and many trends – never wavering from their vision to create a place for everyone.

Arthur Leahy is not only founding member but also the heart and soul of the Quay Coop. Una Feely (IndieCork Film Festival) called him a community elder while I called him a quiet man with a big heart (he had a giggle about it) – both statements are fitting of him.

He has transformed the lives of many from giving jobs to people in need, opening the Other Place that has helped many confused people facing the world and his many housing projects to tackle homelessness.

His friend and colleague John said once to me when I inquired about Arthur’s whereabouts that he was out ‘saving the world again’ – and it is true.

Arthur makes me want to be a better person (not that it worked so far though).

He can be seen on Christmas Day sanding down the wooden floors in the upstairs restaurant – or making sure that orders are placed for their organic vegetable selection. The Quay Coop has had many employees over the years.

A lot stayed on through the years like John Calnan, Nancy Sherlock and Margaret Keating who are much part of the interior by now.

But did you know that Denis Cotter of the famed Café Paradiso started his Irish career in the Quay Coop before opening his place in Lancaster Quay?

So did food writer Joe McNamee. The Quay Coop has given many talents the opportunity to grow and learn.

But the Quay Coop is more than just a shop and restaurant.

It is its own community, just go in and look around.

The staff are more like friends and people stop by to catch up with the latest community news.

It is also a great place to get ingredients you might not find elsewhere. Unusual flour? The Quay Coop has it. Making cheese at home? You can buy rennet here. Organic wine? Yes, you can get it in the Quay Coop.

The Quay Coop wasn’t founded for its owners to become rich but to become a neighbourhood place where people can meet, eat and be understood.

Arthur and his team have achieved something that has been tried by many but failed.

So, what makes the Quay Coop so special? It is Arthur and his dedication to make the world a better place?

He is not someone for the spotlight (and if he reads this, he will have another giggle and shake his head) and always keeps in the background but he is the reason that the Quay Coop is what it is today. Happy anniversary to Arthur and the team. Well done and here’s to many more years of community spirit.