Lisa Quinlan

Lisa Quinlan The Rolling Donut

Lisa Quinlan's story of sweet success, in her own words.

As a teenager I would work with my dad during the summer, selling doughnuts from his mobile food van at festivals around the country. I got such a buzz working at these events, and this was where my love for the food industry developed.

I subsequently worked with Coca-Cola and Red Bull where I learned so much about the power of branding and marketing.

It was during a two-year stint in Australia and New Zealand that I decided I wanted to return to the family business. I had been following doughnut/brunch trends in Chicago, London and Australia for years through social media and realised there was a gap in Ireland to do something similar. Upon arriving home, I soon had two projects on the go: the Wildflower Café in the Ratoath Garden Centre in Meath which opened in 2012 and a small Rolling Donut takeaway shop in Aungier Street.

Juggling the two proved to be a challenge, and after 18 months I made the decision to close the shop. That proved to be just the end of the beginning, however. After some rebranding and securing a loan, we relaunched The Rolling Donut and I’m happy to say that it’s been going from strength to strength over the past few years.

Creating new flavours and collaborating with other brands is what I’m most passionate about. Our vegan doughnuts are something I want to spend a lot more time on as I think there is great opportunity to grow this side of the business and invent some really amazing flavours! I’m really proud that we’ve managed to create a range for vegans that are on par with our other offerings. There’s no better feeling than seeing excited customers come into the shop and leave happy. People always think I must be sick of doughnuts at this stage but I can wholeheartedly say I am absolutely not. I have a new favourite every month – right now it’s our vegan coffee walnut.

The Rolling Doughnut

The Rolling Doughnut

I’d like to think I’ve created a family type of environment within the business. If staff come to me with fresh ideas or issues I will always take on board what they say. They are a direct line to the customers and have a wealth of knowledge, which I really respect.

Decision making is invaluable!

There are always deadlines to be met and day-to-day challenges,
so without this, nothing moves forward. Using your own initiative is high on the list of what I look for in employees. Generally, if people are hardworking and passionate, I will 
notice – these are admirable traits in a colleague. The flip side of this is they must also be able to have fun.

“Once you’re out there working hard, doors will always open,” is what my dad always tells me, and he’s right. The relationships and friendships I’ve built, stand to me every day. He told me to make sure you pay people on time, and as someone who survived two recessions, I’m sure there were times he struggled to pay himself, never mind suppliers, but they always came first. This stood to him over the years and it’s an attitude I’ve adopted.

Don’t listen to the haters or people who tell you ‘it won’t work’ or it’s ‘too hard’. I’d tell any business owner that it’s important to spend the money on what really matters – design work, equipment, machinery, good leases. These are the backbone of your business and not the areas you want to scrimp on.

In conversation with Alison O'Neil