Relatively Speaking: Bob and Joanne McCoubrey

Bob and Joanne McCoubrey own and run the Mourne Seafood bar and restaurants in Belfast and Dundrum and Belfast's Home restaurant. They live in Newcastle.

Bob and Joanne McCoubrey in Home Restaurant, Belfast

Name: Bob McCoubrey Age: 50

Occupation: Restaurant owner

Relationship: Husband of Joanne

Joanne and I met about 14 years ago – we were introduced by mutual friends and for me it was love at first sight. We got married about two years later after I popped the question over a few glasses of wine.

At the time we were both working for a pharmaceutical company but I had a sideline in oyster farming and we talked about running our own restaurant.

Joanne had travelled to South Africa and was really surprised by the fact that there weren't any good, casual fish restaurants over here. Fish is a food that we both love and we could see a real gap in the market in Northern Ireland.

The only other dedicated fish restaurant we could find in all of Ireland was down in Kinsale.

We took the leap when the property in Dundrum came up for sale. We opened the restaurant downstairs and moved in upstairs.

For the first while we both still kept our day jobs but it wasn't too long before I realised I couldn't do that and run the restaurant and oyster farm at the same time.

I went into the restaurant full-time and we opened the second Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast seven years later.

With the opening of another outlet, Home, Joanne has recently taken the leap to come into the business full time.

Working together for us works well – I tend to be out and about and Joanne has been spending a lot of time in Dublin as we're about to open another seafood bar there, so we're not in each other's pockets all the time.

There's a lot to do as we also run a cooking school in Belfast.

We do get downtime though. I might not be able to turn off my phone but we go for walks. The best craic we have is at the races – we own two horses which take us all over Ireland.

I know I can have a short fuse sometimes but I think Joanne likes that I'm a risk taker.

Once I decided to do something I just jump in."

Name: Joanne McCoubrey Age: 44

Occupation: Restaurant owner

Relationship: Wife of Bob

When I came back from South Africa I was actually engaged to someone I met out there. I met Bob through a friend a couple of months after I came back. I actually tried to get a job with his company.

We were friends for a few months and would meet for coffee and dinner. I even tried to set him up with a friend of mine. Everyone else but us knew we would get together but it didn't happen until my engagement ended. That relationship simply didn't work out – I split up with my fiance in November and started going out with Bob in December.

There was never really a proper proposal. We had been talking about opening a restaurant and knew that if we didn't do it then we might never get around to it. We had a tiny wedding with just family present.

I couldn't understand why there were no fish restaurants here when there had been loads in South Africa. Fish is my absolute favourite food so it was a no-brainer to me.

When the restaurant opened I remained working in my own job, but I was always looking for the chance to come and work in the business full time. You need to have a passion about what you do and this really is it. I was always involved in the restaurants but now I work with them full time and I love it. I have no regrets, I don't miss my job or the money it brought in at all.

We have two racehorses – one is called It'll Do Rightly because that's Bob's catchphrase for almost anything. It's great fun as we travel all over Ireland and England and get our families together for a great day out with them."

* Over 80 restaurants, cafés and gastro-pubs will take part in this year's Belfast Restaurant Week from October 5-12.

* The city-wide initiative promises a packed menu of food-focused events, special menus and offers to promote Belfast's vibrant restaurant scene.

* Offers and events include a three-course dinner for £16.50 at Mourne Seafood Bar, a two-course lunch for £12 at Home and Cook your Own Lunch for £15 at the Belfast Cookery School on October8 and 10.

* To make a booking for any of the events tel: 028 9024 8544 or for more information go to www.visit-belfast.com/food

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