Todays blog is about a pair of Galway based brothers, Eugene & Ronan Greaney, otherwise known as The Dough Bros. I have to say that this was a seriously enjoyable shoot. There are so many aspects to getting a good pizza from scratch to the finished product it was almost hard to know where to start.
There’s no real point in me trying to retell the guys story – they do a pretty amazing job of that themselves. I think that many of us would be very familiar with it already. They’re very open and honest about how they began and will mention their initial failures as equally as their success. In a nutshell you can summarise it in their own words on display at the restaurant – “From street stall to pop-up, from pop-up to permanent” Their social media presence is truly astounding for a “small” local business with a die hard loyal following. There you can see a great video about their background, or you could simply visit the restaurant and read the carefully written blackboard walls to see their story too.
I wanted to see of as much of their typical day as possible and it all starts with the dough! Ronan walked me through the steps of their dough making, the development of their own recipe, the addition of each element (water, salt, yeast & flour), the patience needed to wait for the right time to add each of them, working the mixture by hand, proofing, resting and weighing. Ronan talked about how theres no real substitute for doing this by hand to start the process and get a true feel for the raw materials. This is a vital part of getting the product right and something that must be done nearly every day. It was clear there’s no compromise allowed with this element of the process with Ronan actively checking on its progress while we continued elsewhere.
What I particularly liked was how the guys are eager for all their staff to know and appreciate how to make the perfect batch of dough. As the day went on I got a sense of how the work day goes in Dough Bros and there is a real sense of camraderie and commitment from all their staff. Towards the end of the shoot when everyone was used to me being in their way we had some serious fun in the kitchen.
Hanging out in the kitchen Ronan showed me his “Naples” technique for rolling and portioning the dough. The Bros are so serious about their product that Ronan travelled to Italy to complete a course in authentic pizza techniques. Upon being challenged by the other staff to portion a piece of dough to 190 gram purely by feel he managed a 189 on first go – pretty incredible. The movement and flow between the guys in the kitchen as they portioned the dough was great to see – they set a blistering pace filling trays for the day ahead.
For Eugene I get the feeling that the real heart of the business is in the personality of it. He spoke about how the design element of the restaurant is just as important to him as everything else. Its easy to see he’s justifiably proud of this. The repurposing of tomato cans for light fixtures, the house “rules” on the tile wall, the collaborative effort of friends and family to get the location kitted out on time, this all comes through in the atmosphere. The place feels at once both comfortable and modern, welcoming but hip – a true reflection of the brothers personalities.
This effort carries through into every element of the business. They talked about the importance of the stretching of the pizza before it goes into the oven, checking the base while it’s cooking, every little aspect they were passionate about and always watching while work went on around us. While enjoying your pizza you can indulge in a bottle of the Dough Bros Pale Ale, brewed for them locally by Kevin of Independent Brewing. We did just this at the end of a rather extensive shoot. I have to say I’m glad I spent a bit of extra time on this one to really get a sense of the place. I know myself how as a business owner you can put so much effort into so much and sometimes it’s never even seen. I think the real mark of pride in what you do is when you continue to do this even if its only so you yourself are happy with the standards that you have set for your business.
For me this was exactly what this project should be about. Spending time with people who are skilled at what they do and the love for this shines through. So if you find yourself in town and are in need of food pop in and tell the guys I said hello 😉
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