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Corr’s Corner celebrates 100 years as family business

Eugene and Catherine McKeever are pictured with their daughter Bridgene and son Eddie.

On National Family Business Day (September 23), the McKeever Group will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Corr’s Corner in Newtownabbey, which opened as a roadside pub in 1919.

Current owner Eugene McKeever has been associated with Corr’s for more than 50 years, and says the key to its success is it has always been a family-run business.

“The story of Corr’s Corner is the tale of two families, who built up a great relationship with staff and customers over the years,” he says. “It is all about loyalty, respect and treating people as an extension of your own family.”

Former owner John Corr, who inherited the inn from his father in the late 1950s, turned it into a lively and popular roadhouse, serving food and drink to hungry and thirsty customers. He sold it to Eugene, his long-time friend and former employee, in 1993.

Since then, Eugene and his family have expanded Corr’s Corner tenfold, transforming it into a 68-bedroom hotel with eight conference suites and a 180-seat banqueting suite.

The family has built up a portfolio of hotels including the Dunsilly in Antrim, Adair Arms in Ballymena, Dillon’s Hotel in Letterkenny and, most recently, the Dunadry Hotel and Gardens near Antrim, acquired in 2017.

The group employs 300 people and has invested £23m in the hotel industry, including £5m to date in a major refurbishment and restoration of the Dunadry Hotel & Gardens, which was recently awarded four stars by Tourism NI. The business contributes £4.7m per year in salaries to the local economy.

John Corr, who died in 2018, was a mentor to the young Eugene, encouraging him to train as a chef, complete a business degree and learn every aspect of the catering industry.

Eugene’s daughter Bridgene, who is director of Marketing, says they have followed his example of developing the careers of their staff.

“We are put them through NVQs and degrees in management and are currently in the process of developing an academy structure, developing career paths for all our staff,” she says.

The family will celebrate National Family Business Day with a business breakfast in conjunction with the Family Business Forum run by Harbinson and Mulholland Accountants.

The event will include an interview with Eugene McKeever about his experiences at Corr’s Corner and a discussion about the vital importance of succession planning to maintain a successful family business.

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