If you’ve been following Honestly from our Drumanilra days, you’ll know that our backstory and ethos is anything but ordinary. For anyone new here who wants to know what makes Honestly stand out, here’s a brief run down of why our restaurant and business model is special. We will expand on some of these topics in future blogs, but we hope this gives you an idea of what’s happening behind the scenes and how we got to where we are. We hope this blog will also help to explain why our food isn’t Junk Food, and can be more expensive (even if not significantly) than fast food operations.
First and foremost, we make really good food! Our Food Philosophy is the foundation of our choices and we think that shows in our menus and in the feedback we receive. No flimsy grey-ish burgers in our restaurant – we serve real food, grown and prepared with care.
Following on from quality, we believe that where possible, organic food is better for animals, people and the planet. You won’t find nasty hormones, franken-additives or preservatives pumped into our food. We believe in proper, real food. And it tastes better too!!
Our food isn’t shipped in on nameless trucks on a lowest-cost basis. Our family lives beside Lough Key, where we, along with our brilliant team, grow food and raise livestock. Drive along the Knockvicar road and you’ll see Liam Gavin, our co-founder and director, in his wellies, heading down to check on his pedigree Dexter herd. The salads served in our restaurant are grown a 60 second walk from our kitchen table, where our family has enjoyed our organic produce for years. Our kids and their friends have always helped out on the farm, whether it’s collecting organic eggs from our happy hens, or walking the farm dogs! Since we’ve grown, so has our team, but the home farm is at the heart of our business. We still have our team meetings out at the farm and all team members, whatever level, come to our farm to learn more about the business and our values. We want everyone to feel connected to the farm, whether they’re baking our bread or serving customers in our restaurants.
Low Food Miles
The Carbon Footprint of our diets is a big issue, and one that we care strongly about. We aren’t perfect, (we still haven’t managed to grow tomatoes in December), but for our key menu items, you’d be surprised how close these items grow.
Our beef for example: Our pedigree Dexter herd is reared organically on one of our two farmlands. After an organic life, much longer than conventional cattle, they travel in ones or twos to a craft butcher in Sligo. From there they go to our restaurants. Our cows never leave Roscommon / Sligo / Leitrim. That’s real farm to table!
Where we have to import foods (like those December tomatoes) we use one organic supplier, Udea, who works with farmers in the Netherlands. By supporting European organic farmers, we can at the very least promote a more sustainable farming system without the use of nasty pesticides and harmful practices.
5. Family Run
Our Corporate Offices could be more accurately described as our kitchen table! Liam and Justina live in the area and care about our communities. Their children go to school here, they are members of local groups, they host a neighbourhood Christmas Swim every Christmas! We aren’t a faceless franchise, we are a family.
Liam and Justina are strongly involved in every aspect of the business. Liam will be on calls with new retail opportunities for the bakery while feeding cattle, and Justina somehow manages to do the work of about 6 people (if you see her, give her a Flat White!). We love our work and see it as an extension of our family. It’s a labour of love!
Local, diverse team
Alongside the family, we have a brilliant team of people working in the restaurants and behind the scenes. Coming from over 12 countries and all walks of life, all our teams live in the communities we serve. We think it makes a difference that our Marketing Manager does their weekly big shop in Roscommon town, that our Prep Kitchen Assistants have kids in the local schools. This helps us to understand and get involved in our local areas, while bringing our own perspectives.
Supporting small businesses
We are ourselves a small business, but one of our key aims in setting up Honestly was to support other small businesses. We know how hard it can be for small producers to get their amazing produce in front of customers, competing with cheap mass-produced alternatives. We want to provide a route to market for lots of other Irish small businesses, whether it’s Gran Gran’s sauces, Artessa Coffee or Burren Smokehouse Smoked Salmon. We support small businesses in our restaurant menu ingredients and in our farm shops. Check them out!
Support local farmers
As we have said our farm is at the heart of our operations. We have less than 5 people working on our farms, so it’s not an enormous operation. We also try to support local farms wherever we can. We have great connections with other farmers, from Pyne’s potatoes in Co. Clare to Proper Dairy Company where we get our delicious halloumi! We also have a network of other organic Dexter cattle farmers, who provide us with weanlings to raise on our farm alongside our own. Our phone books are full of organic farmers who have the same ethos as we do!
Sustainability should arguably be higher on this list, as it’s an issue very close to our hearts, but we hope you have seen our previous blog about Sustainability at Honestly. In addition to this, since this blog was written, we have won numerous awards for our sustainability efforts. We were awarded the Georgina Campbell Sustainability Award last year, and this year we were thrilled to win first place in the RDS Sustainability Awards for Rural Enterprises. There were other fantastic contenders, and we hope to support them too in any way we can!
We have learned a lot through our adventures in the business, and we aren’t keeping secrets! We want to share our knowledge, our mistakes and our lessons learned with other aspiring businesses! Liam regularly hosts events for Organic Farmers, just last week he hosted an event focusing on the benefits of growing red clover for silage on organic farms! Justina is a Board Member of the Organic Trust this year where she meets and exchanges ideas with other producers and processors in the Organic community.
We could go on…!
As we said, this blog aims to give a “taster” of what makes our business different. We haven’t even touched on Animal Welfare, Charity Events, Accessibility, Our Multiple Awards, Great Service, Online Shop, Team Benefits, Reinvesting Profits and lots (lots) more! But we try to keep our blogs to around 300 words and we are already over 1,200 so we will save the rest for another day!
Genuinely, thank you for reading what makes us different! You can support us by: