Quay Co-op Of Cork Celebrates 40 Years Of Operating

By Dave Simpson
Quay Co-op Of Cork Celebrates 40 Years Of Operating

Vegetarian restaurant and wholefood store the Quay Co-op, of Sullivan’s Quay in Cork, is celebrating 40 years of operating.


The Quay Co-op opened its doors in May 1982 and soon became the home of Cork’s first vegetarian restaurant and cafe, a food co-op, bookshop, women’s centre, and crèche.

In the 40 years that it has been open, the venue estimates that over a million people from all over the world have passed through its doors.

The project began as a community cooperative during a time of rising unemployment, and it developed into a workers’ cooperative, employing 750 people over the past 40 years. Today, the Quay Co-op employs 50 people across its vegetarian deli, bakery, wholefood store, and restaurant on Sullivan’s Quay, its vegetarian food production facility on Cove Street, and its satellite stores in Carrigaline and Ballincollig. It continues to be owned by its members.

To mark the fortieth anniversary, the current team has recreated an iconic photo taken in 1982. It shows the members leaning out the windows across the three floors of the building while the renovation works were ongoing.


A special anniversary celebration took place in the Upstairs at the Co-op restaurant on the evening of Wednesday 25 May, for supporters, suppliers and workers.

Statement By The Co-Founder

Quay Co-op co-founder Arthur Leahy stated, “I speak for all the Quay Co-op members when I say that we are hugely grateful to the people of Cork for their continued support – it means so much to us. Reaching this milestone anniversary is down to hard work, dedication, and also that spark of alternative creativity that we see every day in the people that work here, come here, and shop here. Our radical roots inform what we do to this day – they make us proud of where we work and of what we’ve stood for for 40 years. Today we face new challenges – none more so than ensuring that our future generations may respectfully enjoy this beautiful planet in peace.”

Statement By The General Manager

Quay Co-op general manager Simon Tiptaft stated, “Ireland was a very different place in 1982, when the Co-op first opened. It was a time of rapidly rising unemployment, and many people didn’t have a voice. Hundreds of people have worked at the Quay Co-op over the years, but many have stayed for decades. Our team and our members are so important to us. Our customers, too, are savvy forward-thinkers who continually spur us on to be better, to do more for the causes that will make a better future for us all.

“As a workers’ cooperative, we have a unique view on trading. For us, it is not about profit. If we can break even while supporting jobs and the causes that matter to us, that will do just fine for the next 40 years.”

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