Greenwich a nice addition to Cork’s coffee offering

Cork’s brand new cafe, which opened in early 2022, champions all that is good in the county.

Greenwich, on Caroline St, opened in January in the premises of what was once the coffeehouse of Idaho.

“I have a background in both business and catering, having worked as a catering consultant in Dublin, before returning to Cork, my native country, after five years,” said owner Dermot O ‘Sullivan.

“I studied Commerce at UCC, a Masters in Food Commerce, worked internationally for a few years, then went to Ballymaloe to learn how to cook.

“From there I worked in great kitchens including Hayfield Manor, Longueville House, Ballymaloe House, so my background has always been food, but in different avenues,” Dermot said.

The inspiration for the company was his love for cooking.

“It’s definitely not for the faint hearted, but I love what I do.

“When I’m on the floor in the cafe and someone asks about the menu, I tell them the whole story, right down to the farmer growing it,” he said.

“Customers love that sense of connection, because it’s a cafe that showcases Cork as much as possible.

“I’m a detail lover and love old-fashioned hospitality, which is why I spent a season at the Kenmare Park Hotel, operated by Francis Brennan, and love bringing elements of that to the cafe , including welcoming every customer and paying attention to the little things,” he added.

However, Dermot said opening his own business came with challenges.

“To say it was difficult would be an understatement,” he said.

“Remember I was approaching the banks with a business plan to take over a catering business that was not allowed to open indoors.

“I had to come up with a rock-solid business plan and the banks really put me to the test and rightly so.

“It was a solid exercise because I knew so much about my costs before I even got the finance,” he added.

“It’s really thought-provoking and although I love producing good food, the margins are tight and with inflation at an all-time high, the margins are getting even tighter.

“However, I had to make it work.

“I found the perfect place, after years of searching, and I just knew I had to make it, and here I am.”

Dermot said the people of Cork have been incredibly supportive.

“We’ve built up a nice following and it’s not uncommon for someone to stop me outside the cafe and wish me the best,” he said.

“It means a lot, because setting up a business can be a very lonely place, so knowing that many are there with support is nice.

“I’ve noticed the people of Cork have a genuine curiosity and it’s not uncommon for me to chat with a customer until their tea is cold because they want my full story.

“Many articles or posts I’ve read over the last few months about Cork being ‘tired’ or ‘run down’, but, really, for me, the real beauty of Cork City is its people,” he said. added.

“Buildings may be redeveloped, closed shops will reopen and the city will continue to rejuvenate, but the essence of the city is its people, and that is something that is unique to Cork.”

Greenwich has five employees, plus Dermot, who said he could be a kitchen porter, server, barista or cook any day.

Dermot O’Sullivan: “We’ve built up a nice following and it’s not uncommon for someone to stop me outside the cafe and wish me the best.” Photo: Jim Coughlan

“I have a location and absolutely no plans or desire for expansion,” he added.

As Greenwich opened as Ireland eased Covid-19 restrictions, the pandemic has affected business.

“When I opened the business, the Covid restrictions were eased, so I wasn’t affected in the same way as many established businesses,” he said.

“However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an impact on the business. I think if many stores in the city returned to their original opening hours, that would be a real boost, and bringing more people back to the office would definitely be a boost for small businesses in the city” , he added.

“Tourism Ireland has invested over £350,000 in the exterior redevelopment of Caroline St and it has been such a boost.”

Dermot said Greenwich have big plans for the summer and beyond.

“We recently changed to a weekend brunch offering, which sees the cafe open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday for brunch and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for brunch,” he said.

“We will also be open on Mondays for the summer, and we are also having wine talks with Colm McCann, from Le Caveau.

“We have artist Alan Hurley who also continues to feature his art on our walls which has evolved naturally and a big boost for a Cork-based artist,” Dermot said.

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