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Like dad, Luke's hungry for success in hospitality trade

By Margaret Canning

Published 09/06/2015

Margaret Canning meets up with Luke Wolsey at one of his six Little Wing restaurants
Margaret Canning meets up with Luke Wolsey at one of his six Little Wing restaurants

Some family businesses have succession issues, with a founder unable to interest his offspring in the firm. But it's clear from lunching with Luke Wolsey at one of his Little Wing restaurants that it won't be a problem for Beannchor.

The 29-year-old son of group founder Bill has an infectious enthusiasm for all aspects of hospitality. "There's no way I could do anything else. It's just not in me."

Luke has helped build up Little Wing, which serves Naples-style pizzas, into a chain of six restaurants, including its latest in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

He says the name came from a Jimi Hendrix song and that it aims to lend a neighbourly feel to every restaurant.

It's certainly pretty packed on a Tuesday lunchtime. Luke says that as no-one is likely to want a full-size pizza at lunchtime, they offer lunch deals of £4.75 for a six inch pizza and a salad - the option both of us plump for.

There's an evening deal called 'Little Bill' - simply because the bill will be small, and nothing to do with Luke's dad Bill "who is quite small", as Luke jokes.

It's the pancetta, spinach and egg for me, and pepperoni with red jalapeno peppers for Luke. He looks far younger than his 29 years - most of which it seems have been spent learning the trade from cleaner to skip attender to glass collector, barman to chef, manager to director.

There's a strong pride in watching other staff following the same path. Catherine McDonald, the new manager in Enniskillen, began in Bangor as a waitress.

Luke, who lives in Bangor, learned the basics at Jenny Watts in the town, one of the first pubs in the eventually-bulging Beannchor portfolio.

His involvement in Little Wing began after older brother Conall got it off the ground. Conall now plays a bigger part in the pubs and bars.

Luke admires his dad's achievements immensely and admits that, just like his dad, he never switches off from the business.

Luke does enjoy some five-a-side football and had been to see the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa.

But there's an element of a busman's holiday when he goes out. "I'll be doing my friends' heads in, saying, 'oh, they should have brought the drinks by now', stuff like that."

Next week, John Mulgrew dines with Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats

Belfast Telegraph

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