2012 Irish Small Biz 50 Nominees, V-Z
Name: Peter Walsh
Name of business: Coogan’s.
location: Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Peter Walsh is at the helm of a legendary New York watering hole which is also celebrated as a symbol of the renaissance of Washington Heights: Coogan’s.
“There was a huge crime rate up here in 1985 when we opened, but it was a place where Dominican families could come and be safe, and doctors and nurses from Columbia-Presbyterian hospital could come and unwind,” he told the New York Daily News last November as Coogan’s celebrated its 26th birthday. “But the Dominicans came and they made us.”
Central to the success of Coogan’s is Walsh himself. A dynamo, he encapsulates the best traditions of Irish bartending, lending a listening ear to patrons, a beaming smile and top-notch food and drink.
Among the many initiatives which have made the bar and restaurant the indisputable hub of Washington Heights is the annual Coogan’s Salza Blues and Shamrocks 5k which attracts thousands of runners.
“Here, even the décor and menu reflect the diversity in the neighborhood,” declares Coogan’s website. “Posters of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy are hung side by side with pictures of Leonel Fernandez Reyna, President of the Dominican Republic.”
Teaming up with Tess O’Connor McDane and David Hunt, Walsh has made Coogan’s a must-visit New York institution.
“The contribution Peter Walsh and Coogan’s has made to the revitalization of Washington Heights can’t be overestimated,” says New York’s Small Business Services Commissioner, Rob Walsh.
Adds David Hunt: “What Coogan’s does is what Irish salons have always done. We are the political center, the social center and the help center. We no longer have an Irish clientele but we still do all these things.”
Name: Mary White
Place of birth: Limerick, Ireland
Business: Massage Muscle Therapy
First established: 1991
Where you live: Hyannis, Massachusetts
First job: Working in a hair dressing salon at the age of 12, sweeping up hair, washing hair and making tea for people while under the hair dryer.
What it taught me: Customer service. At the time I did not realize it, but this was my first lesson in customer service. Treating people with a little extra kindness by bringing them a cup of tea while under the hair dryer made them feel cared for. Even today in my practice I think about going the extra mile and how doing something extra that may be very small for my clients goes a long way in making them feel appreciated as a client.
Family: I have 4 sisters all older than me. 1 lives in London. 2 live in Limerick. 1 lives in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Sadly my dad has passed on but my mum still resides in Limerick.
Best advice anyone ever gave you: Learn from other peoples mistakes because we never seem to learn from our own.
Best advice you could give someone starting out: Network, Network and Network. Get out into the community in a networking group. Create opportunities for yourself to talk about your business.
The most important thing for a business success is: Diligence. Give it all you have got and reinvest back into your own business repeatedly to insure the future of your business.
Mary White of “Massage Muscle Therapy…By the Sea” graduated from the New Hampshire Institute for Therapeutic Arts, in Hudson, New Hampshire in June 1991. Prior to her Massage Therapy education Mary earned a degree in Sports Management in Ireland where she grew up. Mary ran a successful practice for 15 years in Central Massachusetts before moving to Cape Cod in 2006 and has now established a practice in West Yarmouth. Her background is in Swedish Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Therapy and Sports Massage. She successfully tested onto the National Sports Massage team in 1995 & in 1996 joined the John Hancock Sports Massage Team which provides Sports Massage for the elite field of the Boston Marathon annually. Mary is now the coordinator of the sports massage team to the elite athletes of the Boston Marathon. Mary works with many local athletes helping them achieve their fitness goals from marathoners to triathletes. Mary is also a Reiki 1 practitioner and is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. As an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association which maintains strict membership standards she continues to expand on her knowledge & skills by taking continuing education courses in Massage Therapy & Body Work modalities fulfilling her continuing education requirement and upholding the AMTA code of Ethics. Mary is currently serving as President of the Mass Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association serving over 3,000 licensed massage therapists in Massachusetts. Mary has office hours in West Yarmouth working at Atlantic Coastal Wellness on Main Street (Rt 28), West Yarmouth. Additionally she works with local businesses to bring Massage Therapy into the workplace with Chair Massage, helping to educate people on the importance of stress reduction especially in the work place. Mary lives in Hyannis with her husband Chris and her dog Molly. Their passion is sailing the waters surrounding Cape Cod. When not sailing Mary can be seen running the roads of Cape Cod. She is an avid runner and has completed many local area races from 5K distances to 1/2 marathon distances.