Happy Mother’s day to all Irish Mammies! Hope you got spoilt! As I wrote in a previous post, although universally celebrated, it’s not celebrated on the same day . One of the (few) perks my mom in Belgium gets, is to have mother’s day celebrated at least twice a year. Happy Mother’s day mum if you read this 🙂 You are the best! My next interview is with Sebastian from Temple Cafe on Augustine Street in Galway City.
I have been interviewing small business in the West of Ireland since February 2015 and now that I work in the city I am enjoying exploring the various eateries in the city . I am a regular at Temple Café and enjoy their great selection of food, friendly staff and I love their concept. Check out this video on Suspended coffees and how it works!
Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland.
My name is Sebastian and I am a native to Galway. I had travelled around working and studying in Marseille, Amsterdam and Edinburgh before deciding to open Temple Cafe.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Café Temple is a Social Business, inspired by the work of Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. This means that all our profits will be donated to local charities. We will be working in association with Cope, SERVE and many other local charities, and our aim is to help raise funds and awareness for many local charities carrying out great workaround Galway and Ireland. Our ethos is to use as much local, organic, ecologically sound and homemade produce as possible, and we are working with many local artisan producers, so watch out for their products in the menus as they join us on our journey. Where we can’t get local we go national and this includes more than just our foodstuffs. We want our customers to see the value of food, to see how what we eat affects how we feel, while also enjoying eating and drinking good food made with care and passion. Both Seb and Steve truly believe that the only way to see change in the world is to be the change that you want to see, oh and as Mammy always said, ‘eat your vegetables.
How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses? How did you get started in this business? How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Two Sundays ago actually marked the end of our first year in business, and what a year it has been. This is my first business and although I had been told how hard it would be you can never be prepared for the amount of work you need to put in. I have actually been working as a chef since I was 14 and constantly worked in the hospitality industry throughout my studies (I did an MBA in Corporate Level Strategy and Organisation in Amsterdam and also did my bachelor’s degree in NUIG studying International Commerce and French). I always wanted to open my own business and I suppose the combination of studying business in University and my experience in hospitality just came together well to open a Café.
Is this your full-time job, a hobby or a bit of both?
Extremely full time, however for a lot of the time it feels like a hobby as I love what I do. However the hours can be hard sometimes and there is a lot of work to put in especially in your first few years of business, all you can do is hope it all pays off 🙂
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
As we are a social business, we are run like a normal business, not like a charity. So a lot of these factors obviously play a part for us. However, we want to try and use our business to create better economic, social and environmental factors in Galway and Ireland as a whole. We want to leave our mark through our food, not through our waste. As such we try and use as much biodegradable and compostable packaging. We also try and use as much local produce as possible, not only does this mean it’s as fresh as you can get but it also means it reduces pollution caused by food coming from all around the world.
Do you know who your competitors are?
Galway is great city for cafes and restaurants, we really are spoiled for choice here. But we don’t really view our competition as merely competitors, they are also the driving factors for our business, forcing us to up the ante, and provide even better options for our customers. As a social business we would love to work together with other businesses to try and create more profits for charity and more funding to go back into the local economy.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Where can people find you?
You can find us on our Instagram and Facebook pages, where we post content daily. We are on Twitter, however we do not use this platform as much.
Website: Not quite finished yet, a work in progress
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
We hope to grow as much as we can over the next year and hopefully expand within the next few years into a small chain. With a small chain we would be able to create meaningful profits for the local community.
Do you plan to compete in the global marketplace? If yes, how? If no, why not?
Not at this moment in time but who knows what the future holds 😉 At the moment it is nice to be an independent cafe. It can be very easy for businesses to lose their individuality when they start to expand on a more global scale and also to lose their roots, that is something I definitely do not want to happen to Temple Cafe.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
People don’t always think about it but technology and the internet, especially social media, has had a huge impact on all businesses. You need to be seen to be active on Social Media constantly posting content to your customers to keep them engaged and wanting more.
What do you love about the area you live in/do business in?
Galway is just amazing, there’s no two ways about it. They say the only problem with Galway is that once you come, it’s incredibly difficult to leave. I enjoy working in hospitality and chatting with all the customers as well. It’s nice when they become more like friends than customers. I wanted to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the cafe and I think we are getting great vibes back from customers. The hospitality industry can be great but there is also many flaws in it, with baristas being replaced by machines, bought in and pre-made products becoming commonplace on menus, we want to go back to how it should be, friendly baristas and cooks making your thirst and hunger disappear.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? If so, where?
At the moment it is hard to meet up with other business owners as we all work quite long hours. However I do talk to a lot of owners from the businesses around and take as much advice as I can get, I am still very young and learning every day about new and better ideas to take the cafe to the next level.
Can you describe your customers?
Amazing. I know a lot of places would say the exact same about their customers but they really are the best. We have a very mellow and relaxed atmosphere and our customers are generally the same, they understand that the food we do takes that little bit longer to prepare as it is actually fresh and cooked to order, unlike some of our competitors.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
I think we are slightly different from our competitors. We offer a wide range of items on our menu for vegans, vegetarians and people who eat everything and so this can be handy for our customers as for example, a person who is vegan can come to the restaurant and bring their meat-eating friends and both will have a great choice to choose from. We try to do our utmost to cater for everyone and although sometimes this may not be possible we think we have a good balance.
What are the biggest challenges for running this business?
The biggest challenges are probably when things go wrong, such as when something breaks down. For example, we only have one coffee machine, so if that breaks down it can take time to fix and that can be very detrimental to our business. It is hard when you are a smaller business as missing a day can have a big cost on the business.
What keeps you going, when the chips are down?
Always being positive, there is no point in being negative. You have to realise you can only do so much so even if the chips are down you must just take small steps to change it around and even if it takes a little time it will happen.
Do you support local charities? If so which is your favourite charity and why?
Yes, we do! As a Social Business, the reason for us being in business is to make money for charity. COPE Galway is a very important charity in Galway at the moment especially as you can see the situation of homelessness getting worse and worse every day. They do great work at the moment and need funding more than ever. Other charities close to my heart include SERVE, an overseas development charity who I volunteered in the Philippines with and Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre who do amazing work. There are many amazing charities in Galway doing amazing work and we hope to be able to support as many as we can in some way in the future.
Any special things planned for 2017?
Yes! We have a lot of exciting things planned from April onwards, we are hoping to launch our upgraded menu, we have a few exciting things planned for the Galway Food Festival and have another secret hopefully happening in April but we don’t want to mention it yet in case it doesn’t happen 🙂
Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Be prepared to work and for the business to become part of your life. There will be ups and downs so just make sure you keep yourself positive and most of all enjoy it, the reason most people get into business in the first place to give them a happier working life so make sure you aim for that.
What did you learn from this interview?
It’s always good to reflect during interviews and to be reminded of why you started everything in the first place so I think that has been a great lesson.
Please share this interview, as I’d like to start a small movement to highlight the brilliant businesses in the West of Ireland! If you would like to be next, please drop me an email to email@example.com and I’ll be in touch.
Thanks for reading & sharing!