Pieces of us: John and Sandy Wyer, restaurateurs

‘I get very bored easily, but I always love a bit of glamour’

 

John and Sandy Wyer are restaurateurs who own Forest Avenue and Forest & Marcy, both in Dublin 4. John, a chef, is originally from Glanmire in Cork and Sandy, a pastry chef who now works front of house, is from Queens in New York City. They met in Heidelberg, Germany, where they were both working and have lived in Germany, Spain and Ireland. For the past six years, home has been a rented house in Irishtown, Dublin 4, which they share with their five-year-old daughter Ruby.

What do you like about where you live? We love the wonderful sense of community. I was pregnant when we moved in and the neighbours showed up with presents for our daughter Ruby when she was born a month later. People look after each other here.

How would you describe your style? Sandy: I think we have similar but different styles. I get very bored easily, but I always love a bit of glamour. I like things that can be quite retro. John: I like simple, understated classics, things that are very well crafted. I like an element of individuality, slightly left of centre. I too love retro style, things from the glam 1940s and also the 1960s. I am into music and play guitar, so I am interested in the rock ’n’ roll era of the 1960s. I love the style that goes with that, and the rebellious attitude as well.

Are there any decorative trends that you strongly dislike? Sandy: We both do not like when things are overworked or when someone tries too hard with design. It really does show when someone has over done it. I think it is much more difficult to keep it simple and get it right, while adding warmth, which is very important.

What’s your favourite thing about your home? Sandy: The sitting room would be our favourite. It is right beside the garden for the warmer times of year and it has a fire place for the colder times. We sit there after a long week and enjoy a bottle of wine together.

Does either of you collect anything specific? Sandy: John would say that I collect clothing and jewellery! I also love saving menus from restaurants that we have visited, and we also have quite a big cookbook collection. John: Nick Lander [the Financial Times reviewer and restaurant consultant] was recently in the restaurant. I was chatting with him and gave him a tour of the restaurant and as we were walking around, we walked past his book, The Art of the Restaurateur. We were talking about restaurant ethos and our inspiration and he was: “There’s my book!” I encourage the staff every now and again when they’re on a break to flick through it.

What are the items you own that you particularly like? Sandy: I love this little black and white ottoman, it only cost me €5 in a shop across the road, John uses it to put his feet up every night when we come home, so it was a great buy. I love the retro style of it and for a fiver, it was a brilliant deal.

We’ve a stunning pottery jug too, I have no idea where it came from, but it ended up here somehow. It’s such a beautiful piece, it’s really well made and well crafted. I use it for flowers mainly.

We both love the painting of a tree Ruby did in school. I had left it in the office hanging up and our ex manager, Tim, he took it away and framed it for my birthday last year.

Is there an artist whose work you admire? Sandy: Our favourite artist and the most beautiful painting we have is hanging in Forest Avenue. It’s by a customer that we have got to know called Paul Hughes. It is magnificent and customers stop and come up close to it to have a look. It really draws you in. It has a lot of soul.

Do you cook a lot at home? John: I can’t stand cooking at home, I just find it a hassle, it’s the only time that I don’t enjoy cooking. I don’t have the equipment here. We’re househunting at the moment, and a big prerequisite is an open-plan kitchen. Here, I don’t have the luxury of grabbing any pot or pan or piece of equipment I want, and I have to go out shopping for ingredients as opposed to walking into the cold room for whatever I want. Sandy is a great cook and she does all the cooking at home.

Is the decor of your restaurants representative of your personal style? Sandy: No, we work with the space and the idea that we have in our heads for the business. With Forest Avenue, we wanted to make the food the star of the show. So when we thought of that, we thought of stripping everything back. And because John’s food is very natural, we started to introduce natural materials like wood to the design. With Forest & Marcy, we wanted it to have a wine bar feel, but we also wanted to something to dominate the space, in a good way. And that was where the marble bar came in.

What’s more important to you, comfort or style? Sandy: That is actually a tough one. In the bigger, grander scheme of things, comfort is more important, but I think we both like to look good while we are doing whatever we are doing. I blame my mother!

See forestavenuerestaurant.ie

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