Meshelle Armstrong – Funny, Fierce, & Fantastic!
This month the Old Town Crier has the pleasure of presenting a personality profile on the second half of the dynamic Armstrong Old Town Duo: Meshelle Armstrong. If you have ever been to Restaurant Eve, Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper, or Society Fair, then you have seen Meshelle’s handiwork first hand whilst you enjoyed her husband Cathal’s cooking. While all of Meshelle and Cathal’s restaurants are beautifully adorned and perfectly represent the harmony that exists between the husband and wife team, this month I would like to focus on a place that is decidedly Meshelle. In fact, in many ways it has come to represent a “home away from home.” I’m talking about Society Fair.
When you walk into Society Fair it is like crossing the threshold of a country circus for the first time. Your mood immediately brightens and a feverish energy overtakes you as soon as you push open the front doors. Bright colors, charming music, decadent smells, and an inviting atmosphere all mingle together to create the perfect welcoming sensation. Without the genius of fun-loving entrepreneur Meshelle Armstrong, Society Fair would just be a dream, rather than the brilliant reality that it is today.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Meshelle over a glass of wine (or maybe two) to talk about her illustrious career, partnership with her husband, and her amazing kids, who inspire her every day. For those of you who don’t know Meshelle, she is self-described as, “very loud, flamboyant, and funny.” After spending a couple of hours becoming fast-friends, I have to say that even as a wordsmith I would have a hard time describing Meshelle with more accurate adjectives. She is a fascinating woman, who has led an incredibly amazing life.
Let’s take Society Fair as one of many available examples. Meshelle jokingly states that, “it is the third child” since her two children, Eve and Eamonn, already have their own namesake restaurants. Society Fair is a wine bar, bakery, butchery, market, and demo kitchen all wrapped into one. Only Meshelle would be able to successfully place all of those culinary entities into one place without losing the authenticity of any of the components. With Cathal’s eye for meticulous attention to detail and Meshelle’s capacity to brighten anyone’s mood, the powerhouse couple has once again opened a truly visionary and extremely popular wining and dining location in Old Town, Alexandria.
Meshelle has been responsible for all of the marketing, press, and décor for Society Fair. In short, if it needs to be branded, ordered, or changed, then Meshelle is the woman for the job. Her attention to detail, combined with her ability to always see the glass as half full, has allowed her to take visionary culinary dining to another level. One part country fair plus one part elite dining with a just a touch of the avant-garde, and the result is the flourishing creation of Society Fair. In fact, this isn’t the first place that Meshelle and Cathal have jointly opened.
It was with a twinkle in her eye and a smirk on her lips that Meshelle remembered picking out the space for Restaurant Eve – the first restaurant that she and Cathal opened 10 years ago. She recalled walking into the space and “simply knowing.” “Something called out to me, whether you call it a gut feeling or intuition, I just knew that this was the place for our first big adventure,” Meshelle Armstrong. And adventure it has been as Meshelle, the ever-vigilant marketing guru, and Cathal, the master at creating culinary delights, have recently renovated the space to more succinctly represent both of their personalities.
The Armstrongs ability to work together both professionally and personally is truly the inspiration for a modern-day love story. A testament to their 22 year old story is Cathal’s recently released cookbook and his endearing acknowledgement to Meshelle that, “there would be no book without you.” The two have travelled all over the world together, opened several successful restaurants, jump started a local charity on the importance of healthy eating, and still find time to relax with their two kids. When I asked Meshelle about how they balance their marriage and work life she offered some very sound advice.
“First you must know who you are. You each must have your own love, own desire, own passion, and be strong in what you are doing. If I am growing then Cathal is growing. This means that we are growing together. Every Sunday we make a no business day. We put the phones down and have fun doing silly things. Because you know Monday morning is coming. And every Saturday night I stay awake waiting for him to get home from Restaurant Eve. We pop open a bottle of wine and simply relax and enjoy each other’s company.”
Well, there you have it; words of wisdom from an incredibly wise, albeit boisterously fun woman, mother, entrepreneur, and marketing genius all wrapped into one. As I finish putting the final touches on Meshelle’s personality profile a modern interpretation of an old phrase keeps trying to make its way onto the pages, behind every great man there’s a great woman. But in the case of Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong this isn’t quite right. Instead it should read, beside every great chef is an equally accomplished and brilliant woman.
Written by: Laura Parker