Catering pioneer John Darcy Carroll has passed away.
His death, in a Dublin hospital, was announced by his son Kenneth in a Facebook post.
'John D' and Kenneth are pictured with Douglas Jordan at an IHI reception.
Originally a hotel manager, John D.Carroll began his career at Jurys Dame Street Hotel in Dublin and then worked at the Central Hotel in Mullingar and for Con Smith in his Termonfeckin hotel. He gained experience at the Midlands hotels in London and Aberdeen and then in Switzerland before joining Aer Lingus as assistant catering manager. The Bailey restaurant was his next port of call and then the Rank-owned Metropole Restaurant on Dublin's O'Connell Street. His most significant career move however was to join Bateman Catering where he became manager of its catering operation at the Irish Refining Company in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork.
He was quick to recognise the potential of industrial catering in Ireland and in 1965 he established John D. Carroll Catering and began to look for clients. He was highly successful in this quest and the company grew rapidly, signing up blue chip businesses like Agfa, Albright and Wilson, Batchelors, Burmah-Castrol, P.J. Carroll, Core Memories, Ferenka, ESB Turlough Hill, Pfizer and UCC. A measure of his relationship with these companies is that many remained clients for more than a decade, and in the case of DeBeers, the Shannon-based diamond processor, for 25 years. At its peak John D. Carroll Catering had 500 employees including 30 at its Ely Place offices where John D employed two private secretaries.
A close friend of Sean Lemass, who was his company chairman, John D. took over the running of the restaurant at the National Gallery, at the politician's request, and developed it into one of the trendy Dublin restaurants of the late 1960s. He also held the Leinster House restaurant contract for 20 years during which he created a stir among TDs and Senators by converting it to self-service. In 1977 the company entered the offshore catering sector when it signed a contract with Marathon to service its Old Head of Kinsale natural gas platform
John D. Carroll became vice chairman of FERCO, the Brussels-based industrial catering lobby group. He was also president of the Irish Restaurant Owners' Association, the Irish Hotel and Catering Institute and a director of the Irish Management Institute and chaired management/trade union negotiations. He was also a founder and chairman of the National Hygiene Partnership. Hesold his company to Sutcliffe who later sold the business to Compass Catering
By the early 1970s, the industrial catering market in Ireland was buoyant. IDA-backed industries to open around then included Mitsui, Gillette, Courtaulds and Merck,Sharpe and Dhome, and all looked to industrial caterers for their staff restaurants. Aer Lingus saw an opportunity in an expanding market and in 1973 it set up National Catering Organisation in which it became a 75% shareholder.
John D Carroll was elected president of IHCI in 1994 and spearheaded a period of expansion, change and development. A new post of secretary general was created and filled by Alexis Fitzgerald . A new Strategic Development Plan was promulgated which set an ambitious goal to increase membership to 1,400. New projects would include a Student Forum, Young Manager section, Mediation Service to the industry, an Environmental Initiative, an Educators Circle, Consultants Group, Mentoring Programme and enhanced communications with members. It also proposed raising £30,000 from Patrons. The Plan was by a long shot the most ambitious devised by the Institute since its inception. A measure of its vision however, is that most of its goals were reached over the following decade. The speakers at that year’s Conference included the renowned naturalist David Bellamy.