10 Nov BOIPA’s Innovative Pub winner not resting on their laurels
It’s been twelve months since Andy’s Bar and Restaurant in Monaghan won BOI Payment Acceptance’s (BOIPA) Innovative Pub of the Year category at the Irish Pub Awards. In that time the establishment has gone from strength to strength. This year they adding the Irish Gin Bar of the Year Award to their well-populated trophy collection. Additionally, Andy’s celebrated four decades of business this year. In that time, Andy’s has experienced booms and recessions, along with major fires and a global pandemic.
Kevin Redmond runs the business with siblings Sean and Aisling. He gives his entrepreneurial insights into the hard-graft and outside the box thinking that helped Andy’s win the Ireland’s most innovative pub crown. He also give clues as to what’s next for this Monaghan gem.
Innovation keeps business in good spirits
With pubs and restaurants facing 2 years of uncertainty when they closed their doors before St Patrick’s weekend in 2020, the hospitality industry suffered a resounding economic blow. Redmond and his team moved rapidly to turn potential catastrophe into a catalyst for new business income through a new product offering.
Like many pubs, Andy’s offered their customers the opportunity to purchase takeaway food and drinks. However, the pub was firmly placed to differentiate themselves being one of the first to recognise a growing trend towards specialty gin in 2014. By doing so, Andy’s had already refined the pub’s gin offering and, when the pandemic occurred, they could offer their customers premium pre-batched cocktails and compound gins in beautifully-designed take-home products. Sourcing the grain locally made it a Monaghan-based product, along with having it exclusively available only from Andy’s Bar.
“We worked closely with Stephen Murphy, our local distiller from Old Carrick Mill. He exclusively supplies our gin and whiskey for our products. We place our 200ml gin bottles at the bar counter. This has been key to sales. Customers can see the products, pick them up, read the labels, ask questions and get a free sample!”
The seasonally-informed gin proved a massive hit.
Winning BOIPA’s Innovative Pub of the Year
As a university lecturer in Entrepreneurial Studies, Redmond is no stranger to doing things differently. However, the experience drove him and his team to push their limits even more.
“We found our customers really enjoying what we were doing, gained new regulars and, ultimately, an increased profit margin. Along with that, we have created a very distinct identity which got people talking.”
With this in mind, Redmond set his sights on the Innovative Pub of the Year Award. To win it, a pub must demonstrate how innovation significantly improved their business, either through increased revenue, an increase in customer numbers and/ or cost savings.
The pub’s submission included over 24 separate examples of innovation. This included a whiskey passport, where customers could get their document stamped each time they experienced a new whiskey at Andy’s, and a bauble with Andy’s Christmas edition sloe gin. The latter idea managed to get their product onto hundreds of Christmas trees and into homes across Monaghan and beyond.
Andy’s submission left the judges in no doubt that, through a mix of industry and creativity, Redmond and his team had nailed the innovative brief and were deserving winners of the crown.
“For us, as a small, family-run pub from Monaghan, to take on the biggest in the country and finish on top was phenomenal.”
The tonic for future successes
Positive customer reaction to the bar’s unique gin offering and deserved national recognition only whet the bar’s appetite for continued success.
“I wanted that Gin Bar of the Year title,” Redmond recalled. “However, we would need to be creative with many top gin bars stocking hundreds of different gins. I decided that the only way our bar could win was by ripping up the rule book.”
That is exactly what Redmond managed. The team concentrated on just four homemade gins infused with fresh ingredients. In turn, they created seasonal gins using wild berry, peach and rhubarb. This quality over quantity approach was just the ticket with Andy’s pulling off a feat of David vs Goliath proportions.
“The win speaks for itself. Andy’s Rhubarb gin liqueur pretty much landed us the Gin Bar of The Year title on its own. It’s served with fresh mint and sliced raspberries!”
One thing not on the menu is complacency with Redmond being coy on rumours that a homemade tonic might be in the works and he hasn’t missed a trick with Andy’s highly-popular Magical Gin Night sometimes selling out in under half an hour.
With exciting future products and events already in the pipeline, locals and new visitors are bound to be the better for it.
This year’s Irish Pub Awards took place on November 15th. There were 7 nominations in the Innovative Pub of the Year Category. Lock 13 Brewpub took home the Innovative Pub crown.