Newry chef duo invest £500,000 in city centre deli and restaurant

Move will double firm’s workforce to 130 by end of this year

Major investment in Newry will create 65 jobs
The Newry chef duo behind the Just Good Grub brand, John McCartney and Mark Haughey, announce plans to invest £500,000 in their retail brands, The Food Market and The Food House, and are set to double their workforce in Newry by the end of this year (Colum Lynch)

The chef duo behind the Just Good Grub wholesale brand in Newry are investing £500,000 to expand their retail offer in a move that will double the firm’s workforce to 130 by the end of this year.

Friends Mark Haughey and John McCartney plan to expand their retail brand The Food Market and its restaurant derivative The Food House.

They have secured a 5,000 sq ft foot premises at Plaza Retail on the Belfast Road as part of their ambitious plans to grow their retail footprint.

They will launch The Food Market this summer (the second in the brand portfolio) and, pending planning permissions, phase two will see the addition of a second Food House seated restaurant (the other is located in Banbridge).

John said: “The Food Market will open late June, with the restaurant to follow later in the year. It will retail breakfast options, freshly made sandwiches/subs and melts to order, serving barista-style coffee alongside a wide range of fresh ready meals and desserts from our Just Good Grub brand.”

It’s a significant investment by the duo, who launched their food partnership in 2018, borne out of a desire to work independently, having both gained decades of experience working in hotels and restaurants across the Down and Armagh region.

Speaking ahead of the opening, Mark said: “We are excited to secure this prominent site in Newry city after some years looking for the ideal premises.

“The offering in The Food Market and its offshoot Food House restaurant will stay true the ethos of our origins - providing simple, delicious, fresh food created by chefs.

“Following on from the success of The Food House restaurant in Banbridge, we’re delighted to expand that offering to our home town and create new employment opportunities.”

From their bespoke kitchen facilities at WIN business park, the company cooks over 25,000 meals a week for sale in 140 retail outlets.

There are 250 menu options, which are regularly updated - including family favourites, breakfast pots, Asian inspired dishes, calorie-counted meals and freshly prepared desserts.

John added: “Creating local employment and working with local suppliers has always been a cornerstone of our business. We currently employ 65 staff in Newry and Banbridge, and the addition of a second Food Market & deli and a second Food House restaurant will see that staff level double by the end of 2024.”