Drinks to your door: Aengus D’Arcy, the proprietor of JJ Bowles in Thomondgate, has had to diversify during lockdown
An experience in New York inspired Aengus D’Arcy to offer a new service to keep JJ Bowles afloat during lockdown
Tell us a little about JJ Bowles.
Based at Thomondgate in the city, JJ Bowles is widely regarded as the oldest pub in Limerick and has been in our family for more than 100 years. As everyone knows, it’s a massive rugby pub, with our biggest days being match days in Thomond Park. Unfortunately, those days have been put on hold for the moment, but hopefully they'll be back before too long!
What are you doing to counter-act the third Covid-19 lockdown?
In the earlier lockdowns we hunkered down like everyone else, but as the whole thing was dragging on with the pub closed for 10 months last year, we put our thinking caps on and came up the idea of setting up Ice Cold Direct. The genesis of the idea goes back many years, to a summer we spent as students in New York. While lounging in Central Park on what was the hottest summer on record, the cry of the beer vendors: ‘beer, beer, ice cold beer!” was music to our ears. Never was a beer craved so much or tasted so good!
Tell us more about Ice Cold Direct.
Accessible online at www.icecolddirect.ie, we offer cold drinks delivered within an hour to the city and suburbs, and at affordable prices. We launched the new service in December, and to date the reaction has been great: what's not to like? It’s also a great way for people to support a local business during lockdown.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Castletroy and I still live within 200 metres of my parents' house!
What is your educational background?
I attended Monaleen National School and Crescent College Comprehensive. Later on, I studied Commerce and Finance at University College Dublin.
How did you get to where you are today?
I worked for many years in software development in Dublin and myself and my wife returned to Limerick in 2006. In 2015, my aunt was retiring from the pub trade and put the business up for sale.
In a moment of madness, rather than see the pub go out of the family, I decided to buy it!
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Firstly to get the pub reopened and welcome back our customers and secondly to grow and expand Ice Cold Direct, with a push into the Dublin market on the cards for the summer.
Who do you admire in business?
He may not be popular with everyone, but Michael O'Leary of Ryanair is one person I admire: to grow from a single aircraft with 15 seats to Europe's largest airline is some achievement.
In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?
One of my first jobs was in Dunnes at Sarsfield Street when I was 16 years old. One of the older lads had a catchphrase: ‘quick and efficient’. It still sticks with me today.
Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?
I enjoy watching all sport and also try to go on a cycling trip each year.
For the past few years we have been doing the Wild Atlantic Way, with hopefully Donegal this year being the final stretch.