Amazing Selection of Produce at Cork's Quay Coop

Cork's Quay Coop
Huge Selection of Produce in this Multi-Roomed Store 
With Arthur (left) before the mid-week breakfast meeting

You probably know where the Quay Coop is. On Sullivan’s Quay. A wren’s flight from the west end of the South Mall. But do you know what’s behind the door? The doors? Here, you may need a guide. Room after room filled with good things: a coffee dock downstairs, a restaurant upstairs. In the maze of the shop, you’ll breads, teas, a health area, and their own products including soups and nut loaf.

You’ll even come across Key Books. It is run by volunteers as a not-for-profit venture, benefitting a range of charitable and cultural ventures the Quay Coop support. Drop into Key Books for a browse – Tuesday to Saturday 12 to 5pm.

Still with me? Now we’re out the back and crossing the street to their production facility. Fr Matthew probably lived on this spot. A later building housed a lap-dancing club. And on this site now, with its contrasting stories, the Quay Coop are modernising their production facility, bringing it  up to the standard and speed necessary to serve the export market. Already, they export to the UK and now the Benelux countries are next in line. They are in fact currently looking for a production manager.

Out here too, you’ll see their electric delivery van, unless of course it is off delivering. They are very happy with this economical and environmentally friendly workhorse which is regularly on the road to their other two shops, one in Carrigaline, the other in Ballincollig.
A fraction of the selection of teas here

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We were here for breakfast and to meet the people behind the venture, have a chat and share tips. We being a blogger or two like myself plus people from various city bodies such as Chamber of Commerce, Cork City Library, the Metropole Hotel and so on, all invited in by Marketing Administrator Mia Tran. 

Arthur, who has been with the Quay Coop since its foundation in 1982, is our guide both to the history and the geography of the very impressive operation. The coop is quite an employer with 70 currently on the books, spread across ten different nationalities.

So the food here is vegetarian and vegan. You could say “alternative” and Arthur says that in the early years they were also a source of alternative information, helping the many backpackers and so on find accommodation and entertainment of their liking. They still do a bit of that but the internet has taken over that function as well.
from the sea

So things have changed, many alternatives now. And the Coop sometimes wonder where they stand now. Because Cork is small, they think everybody “knows about us”. “But do they? And that is why we are reaching out today.” Reaching out with hands full, I hasten to add, as they supplied us with a delicious breakfast, a terrific start to the day.

Arthur and Una and all the staff are rightly proud of their achievements here, especially their exporting business. Their nut loaf is the export star at the moment and you can find it even in Harrods!

On the other hand, Arthur is disappointed that there is no Irish organic vegetable grower capable of satisfying the daily demand in the Quay shops and restaurant. They do deal with quite a few but none have the scale to keep the Quay Coop going every week of the year. There are some though talking to Bord Bia about upscaling and Arthur is hopeful something will come of that.

What can you expect to find in this many-roomed store? Here’s a list that will give you a good idea: organic fruit and vegetables of all kinds, organic wines, fresh bread from our in-house bakery, herbs and spices, an extensive range of gluten-free products, chilled and frozen foods, meat alternatives, environmentally friendly household and cleaning products, health supplements, natural baby products, natural and organic cosmetics.

Upstairs, the restaurant has a diverse menu including a wide range of vegan and vegetarian starters, salads, main courses, specials, desserts, teas and coffees, with plenty of choice for those with dietary requirements, or on a tight budget. It is famous for its fantastic grub, extensive menu and generous portions.
The Coffee Dock in the Sullivan’s Quay Shop offers delicious breakfasts, lunches, sandwiches, salads and desserts; a wide range of vegetarian or vegan. Everything is available to eat-in or to-go.

Since 1982, The Quay Co-op was and is a workers op-operative based on Sullivan’s Quay, in the heart of Cork City. It follows a green policy, in food, in packaging, in energy and transport, and in recycling. Read more about the coop and its philosophy here.  Better still, call in and explore.

Quay Co-op Vegetarian Restaurant, Organic & Health Food Shop,

24 Sullivan's Quay,

Cork City

Co. Cork