Dedication, relentless attention to detail and hard work are just some of the qualities that have kept restaurant owner Jackie Keating at the top of her profession for over 30 years. Today, she heads up Dublin's beloved Independent Pizza Company as well as the popular Gotham restaurants.
While there have been massive changes across Dublin's restaurant industry since then, Jackie reminds us that some elements remain classic. "Our homemade fresh pizza dough which is the same recipe since 1984 & still as popular as ever".
So having spent most of her professional life working in the business, can she cast her mind back to her earliest foodie memory? "Eating rare grilled steak & drinking French red wine in the legendary Shay Beano Restaurant in the mid-eighties on Nassau St. in Dublin. Up until this time I had only ever eaten well-done steak which was the norm in Ireland so my eyes were opened to a different way of cooking meat & a new fantastic taste."
Food was always in Jackie's household growing up and they "were always trying out the latest food trends at home in the 70's and 80's from prawn cocktail or pavlova to sweet & sour chicken and vesta curry." Is there a dish on her restaurant's menus that's inspired by that family foodie history? "The Gotham Cheesecake is an old family recipe from the 70's from my mother-in-law which has been on the menu in Independent Pizza Co. since we opened in 1984 and is the most popular dessert in all our restaurants."
Being International Women's Day, we ask if Jackie has felt any more difficulty in being a female restaurant owner? "Not really, it's all about dedication, a relentless attention to detail & hard work. Gender is never really an issue in our industry in my opinion." However it's clear that she's always been surrounded by inspiring strong women since day one. "Lots but mostly my fellow DCU Marketing graduates, mostly female and many of whom who are successful business owners & powerful business women. We inspire each other. We were the first year to graduate from our course in DCU, Marketing & International Languages, and the class was predominantly female . Many of them went on to become very successful entrepreneurs & leading business women in their fields! We are an extremely close graduate group who meet up often & have a reunion every few years where graduates travel from abroad for a weekend get-together in Ireland."
While managing three successful restaurants has always a been a dream, that love of marketing has never gone away and Jackie reveals this is what she would be doing if not in the food industry. We ask for her advice to give her young restaurant and business start-ups and her answer is simple but effective. "Pick a start-up business that is saleable!!"
Finally, with changing customer habits, Jackie passionately believes in firmly adapting your restaurant to remain relevant. "We still keep up with food trends & tweaking our offering in all of our restaurants - we recently added brunch on Saturday & Sunday in Independent Pizza Company in response to customer demand. Keeping on trend with menus is vital and that is why we started to work with Deliveroo also. We never planned to do delivery until Deliveroo came along and offered a high end delivery service which suits our product."
Read more about our amazing and inspiring women of food from around the world here.