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03rd Jul 2024

“You have to have a passion for it” – Smokin Bones’ Jason Nettleton on making it in hospitality

Sarah McKenna

Fresh off the success of Taste of Dublin, we caught up with Jason to chat about making it in the industry plus his plans for the future of Smokin Bones.

Brought to you by Square

Earlier this year, we teamed up with Square for the ultimate foodie collaboration. We were on the hunt for one incredible restaurant to showcase at the highlight of the Irish culinary calendar – Taste of Dublin.

We got some incredible submissions, but ultimately we could only feature one restaurant at Taste of Dublin, and after sifting through the entries, one spot in particular stood out.

With locations in Temple Bar, Swords, and Castle Market, Smokin Bones has become a go-to destination for barbecue in Dublin, and their flavoursome, succulent dishes went down an absolute treat when they set up shop for Taste of Dublin. Fresh off the success of the festival, we caught up with Jason Nettleton, the operations manager at Smokin Bones to chat barbecuing, hospitality and his top tips for making it in the industry.

Throughout Taste of Dublin, Smokin Bones served up their tastiest menu items to guests of the Lovin Dublin restaurant, which was facilitated by Square. The seamless technology from Square enabled the team to accept contactless payments quickly and securely, which made the Taste of Dublin experience extremely smooth.

How did you get your start in the hospitality industry?

I grew up in South Africa, and I was really passionate about cooking so I went to study cheffing. Then I realised I didn’t like cheffing so I went to study hospitality. After studying, I moved to America, worked there for 10 years, met my wife, moved to Ireland and then started here in hospitality.

What initially attracted you to Smokin Bones?

In South Africa we have a very big background in barbecuing. It’s a cultural thing for us, we call it a braai. So when I saw the opportunity to work in a barbecue restaurant, I jumped at it and then started as a general manager and worked my way up from there.

What would you say to someone trying to get their start in hospitality?

When I hire people,  I don’t look at their background in hospitality. I look at how I can speak to them on a personal level. If they’re approachable and a good communicator, I will always give them a shot no matter what.

If you want a career in hospitality, make sure you think about it properly. You have to have a passion for it. You can’t just do it on a whim. If you don’t have a passion, don’t make it your career.

You got to set up a pop-up restaurant at Taste of Dublin courtesy of Square. What was that experience like?

It was very cool. From the moment we won the competition to actually being a part of it, it was a really great experience. I hadn’t done a festival in Ireland before. It was very good, they let me control everything and organise everything. It was a good experience, Lovin Dublin did well and they were very helpful.

What’s next for Smokin Bones?

We just got a new product that launched in retail – our pulled pork pouches – so we’re launching into the retail side of things. We also thoroughly enjoy opening restaurants, and having them all over. Right now, we plan on expanding to different counties in Ireland.