WATCH as The Dairy's Sandra McDowell from Gleno is named Larne's Business Person of the Year 2022

The vision of shaping a new chapter in the history of Gleno village has earned Sandra McDowell the prestigious title of Business Person of the Year at this year’s Larne Business Excellence Awards.

Sandra’s initial dream of setting up a quaint coffee shop evolved to see the creation of The Dairy, her unique bistro, butchers and farm store which opened in April 2019.

Alongside her late husband, Robert, Sandra has successfully run a 150-acre beef and sheep farm in Gleno, for more than 30 years. This business is in conjunction with the successful hardware store, Dairyside Stores, established more than 70 years ago by Robert’s parents, Alex and Agnes McDowell who started out delivering in a small van to local farms, as well as Dairyside feeds, a animal feed store.

For years Sandra had envisioned establishing a coffee shop, cultivating the idea for so long that her family encouraged her to ‘just go for it’.

The Business Person Of The Year Award went to Sandra McDowell of The Dairy in Gleno. The trophy was presented by Robert Hutchinson, one of the trustees from charity partner, Brighter Futures, with category sponsor Larne Football Club. LT48-207.

Once Sandra had made the decision to fulfil her ambition, she knew exactly where she would be building her dream café. The property adjacent to the house and store was a former creamery that the family had owned for the past 30 years and it seemed the perfect location.

She led the journey to demolish and rebuild the premises with planning applications and designs to meet building regulation standards. Alongside her daughter Alana they designed a stylish, modern interior – whilst still incorporating some of the old building left behind - with a more traditional exterior to blend in with the rural surroundings. Visitors to The Dairy are delighted to see how reclaimed products from the old building gives tangible evidence of the past and photos and memorabilia celebrate years gone by.

Dedicated to creating a community ethos around her business, Sandra works hard to promote and build relationships with other local businesses and suppliers by either stocking their produce in the farm shop or promoting local food through her menus.

Read More
Watch as Jane Allen on behalf of Magheramorne Estate is recognised at Larne Busi...

Sandra’s family has fully supported the venture. Daughter Alana, a graphic designer shaped the eye-catching independent identity for The Dairy. Her son, Mark has taken on the role of building up the business on social media in addition to handling many of its administrative aspects.