For many years the sleepy village between Carrickfergus and Larne was famous for the hardware shop, the feed store, Maud’s Ice cream, and a relative of Theodore Roosevelt who immigrated from there in the early 19th Century.
Maud’s Ice cream left the village a few years ago and the village more or less went to sleep, well apart from the big ideas that Sandra McDowell had.
Remember that amazing film Field of Dreams, and those emotive Kevin Costner words spring to mind “build it and they will come”?
Well that is exactly what Sandra did.
A living testament to the spirit of an entrepreneurship Sandra McDowell started to transform the old co-operative creamery at Gleno about.
Risking practically everything, this local tour de force literally grabbed the bull by the horns and set about making a fantastic eating house, butchers and local farm shop right on her doorstep.
Sandra’s idea stunned many in the locality but as the enterprising business woman she is, she knew and believed her dream would work.
Having only opened in April of 2019 the “Dairy” is crammed with locals seeking great food and service. And that’s just what they get.
Most days there is a queue for lunch, and breakfast and afternoon services are extremely busy too.
It’s not advertising that has played a part in this success says Sandra “it has all been word of mouth”.
Sandra knew what she wanted to do with the Dairy and she was heavily involved in the design and reconstruction of the old creamery into what it is today.
For the McDowell’s farm to fork is the key, the lower the miles from field to the plate the better the taste and its better for the environment too.
The majority of the meat used in the Dairy is sourced from their own farm and other produce used in store is all locally sourced.
Sandra’s dream was to showcase the best of Northern Irish products and its clear when you enter the restaurant / farm store that there are many local products on offer.
You would think that running a successful restaurant and farm shop would be enough to do with your week, but no, Sandra and her husband also run the very successful hardware store next door and a 150-acre farm to boot.
I visited this exciting new restaurant twice this week once for breakfast and once for lunch, I normally visit an establishment twice so I can gauge consistency of the products on offer.
Breakfast for me was avocado and smoked salmon and some stunning coffee, which I’m reliably informed is milled by 38 Expresso in Millisle. The food was delicious and expertly prepared and came in at a very reasonable £6.95.
A couple of days later I popped in for lunch and had the spicy calamari and a chicken Cesar salad. Again, the food was delicious. And extremely well priced.
Service is excellent and the staff are clearly well trained by restaurant manager Shezelle Horner formerly of Creed Coffee in Carrickfergus
The Dairy is delightfully decorated with references to yesteryear all over the walls, even the door of a creamery van hangs proudly above a door.
Although Sandra has worked hard for to make the Dairy what it is today, she also feels that it can be a springboard for other local producers. To this end Sandra now uses produce from a host of local suppliers, including:
- Just Live a Little Granola from Portaferry
- Larne’s Sea Sugar Sweets
- Irish Black Butter of Portrush
- Bangor’s Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt,
- Crawford’s Rock Seaweed from Kilkeel,
- Tom and Ollie’s olives and pesto from Broughshane
- Clearer Water of Larne
- World famous Maud’s Ice cream from Carrickfergus.
So if you have time to spare and need a break, there is no better place to visit than the Dairy Gleno