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Tom O'Connell

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Back in 2004, when Tom O'Connell was asked to write a few words of testimony for the second edition of John McKenna's book, How to run a restaurant, Mr O'Connell replied with a six page manifesto that is one of the defining testaments to the art of being a restaurateur.
He began with listing 10 Things You Need to Know to Run a Restaurant Successfully, starting with Knowledge of Food, and concluding with How to Network. He then explored each of his ten points in detail.
His authoritative analysis of what he does every day in running O'Connell's Restaurant reminded us of the old joke about the late Garret Fitzgerald, the one where Garret is being given the results of some initiative or objective or other.
“That's all very well in practice”, says Fitzgerald,  "But how does it work in theory?”
Tom O'Connell knows the theory, and he knows the practice. He is one of the greatest Irish restaurateurs, and he has run one of the great Irish restaurants ever since he first put his name above the door in Ballsbridge, back in the very late 1990's. He brought to his restaurant an intelligent disdain for fashion – his rooms have always been classic restaurant spaces, and not just the slickest new thing – and a love of both hard work and the correct way of cooking and serving food.
But the good food and the hard work are underscored by a fundamental generosity that sets Mr O'Connell apart. And his generosity extends to the unknown: if he finds a new place whilst on his travels, he will immediately drop you a line to tell you that so-and-so is doing the good thing, and that they deserve recognition.
We have noted before that Mr O'Connell could choose to make life easy for himself by alluding to his famous siblings and relatives, but he never, ever does that. His work is like a sort of public service: he brings us the best food, the best experience, so that our lives can be made richer, not so that he can be made richer.
In that regard, he is a man out of time, a man who works according to different criteria, who works according to his own criteria. Back in 2004, he wrote that, “If there is magic on the plate and in the delivery of the customer's expectation then you can forget the need to devote huge amounts of time to formal marketing strategies. You will have the least expensive and the most successful marketing of all – word of mouth.”

135 Morehampton Road, Dublin 4
+ 353 1 269 6116
www.oconnellsdonnybrook.com

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