It all started in a neglected pawnbroker’s shop.
Now, 40 years later, the Quay Co-op is celebrating four decades as a thriving community hub on Sullivan’s Quay by recreating an iconic photo taken during the initial renovations in May 1982.
To mark the 40th anniversary, the current team leaned out the windows across the three floors of the building for a picture.
The Co-Op has expanded over the years and it now has three buildings on O’Sullivan’s Quay, number 24, and the premises on either side, one of which was previously the Cork Fire Brigade headquarters.
Cork’s first veggie café
One of Ireland’s flagship vegetarian restaurants and wholefood stores, the Quay Co-Op soon became the home of Cork’s first vegetarian restaurant and cafe, a food co-op, bookshop, women’s centre, and creche.
Over the years it has served thousands of vegetarian dishes, has been the home of countless debates, and offered a warm welcome to those who sought to organise against prejudice and for equality. They estimate that over a million people from all over the world have passed through their doors and the workers co-operative has employed 750 people.
Today, the Quay Co-op employs 50 people between its vegetarian deli, bakery, wholefoods store and restaurant on O’Sullivan’s Quay, its vegetarian food-production facility on Cove Street, and satellite stores in Carrigaline and Ballincollig. It continues to be owned by its members.
“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.” said Co-op, co-founder Arthur Leahy.
“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 40 years. Today we face new challenges, none more so than ensuring that our future generations may respectfully enjoy this beautiful planet in peace.”
A special anniversary celebration will take place in ‘Upstairs at the Co-op’ restaurant Wednesday evening for supporters, suppliers, and workers.