Batch Coffee House Bar & Kitchen
We’re 18 months in & the single biggest factor in our relative success is the people we have surrounded ourselves with. No business in Ireland can be as lucky as we are … But I’m extremely biased about our gang! Friends, family & our team – each one as important as the next and we are so grateful for their help and expertise.
Falcarragh was a town that was busy and prosperous in the 90’s and I think we are slowly but surely getting back to that. Investment in both our main street and in enterprise in the area is key to returning us to that prosperity we once enjoyed. Why Falcarragh for Batch? I think most of us have a draw and a connection to our hometowns & that’s exactly what it was for me – It’s the people when it comes down to it. That has been proven time and time again over the last 2 years or more. You know that when you need someone there will be 50 people there willing to help, in good times and bad – you don’t get that in the cities. When you have that in a community setting plus a chance to make a living [pre Covid!] by the coast why would you be anywhere else?
There have been many, many, many challenges in getting to where we are today. I have learned so many skills over the last 26 months or so since Batch was only an idea and a title of a Pinterest board. Patience being the number one I think and that has come and gone manys’ a day! Dealing with the everyday stresses is something I struggle with. Learning not to be so reactive has been something I have focused on. Identifying these flaws is the hardest part probably and if you have good people around you the flaws will all become apparent – if you have the right people they will call you out straight away! I thought at the start it would all be turned around in a couple of months and naively thought everything would be signed & sealed in the 8 weeks from June to August to catch the end of summer 2018. It took 9months extra in the end but we were happy with the time we made and the total renovation time and cost was cut in half by doing all the work ourselves with my Dad’s expertise and the vision of a close-knit group of family and friends. The one upside of the drawn out nature of the process was the time I was afforded to plan the interior and branding of Batch. The space itself was a completely blank canvas when I started and the two things I loved from the first time I was in there were the high ceilings and the amount of light that came in through the two big windows at the front. The design process was fairly organic and the concept came about from hours of trawling through Pinterest, salvage yards, furniture shops and all types of cafes and bars. What we have been left with is an industrial looking/feeling shell with industrial fixtures & fittings and lots of soft & shiny things to fill the whole space – that is the best way I can get it out of my head and on to paper! We have made many changes since first opening and kept that organic process going, adding bits & pieces as they became apparent. The upstairs has been revamped and we now have a bar and relaxing area up there as well as a couple of offices. The garden renovations have been started and hopefully, we’ll get that finished by Spring 2021. Kitchen extensions plus a few other projects are in the pipeline. The pipeline gets longer with each Covid restriction but we are keeping positive as best we can and doing as much planning and prep work in the downtime.
I did think getting my team together would be a challenge in a small community like Falcarragh but I got so much interest and CV’s are still coming in 2 years later. There is so much talent around- it’s been great to see! We have more or less kept the same team since we have opened. A few have moved on for various reasons and we have made a couple of excellent additions. JFK visited NASA in the 60’s and asked a janitor what his job at the organisation was. The janitor replied ‘I am putting a man on the moon’ – the mission was the same no matter what level of the organisation you worked at & it’s the same here. As I said in the opening line – each and every team member is as important as the other.
When I finally got the doors open I thought the year round trading would have been my biggest challenge. Falcarragh is a working town with big schools & more employment than you would think and that has meant that we enjoyed a really busy ‘off season’ last year. This year is different for reasons that don’t need to be explicitly discussed! If we had opened at the beginning of this year we would have almost certainly not survived. It has been a year or learning lessons, learning how to adapt and honing agility skills. That is the way we are looking at it, if you focus on how bad it’s been you would be up the walls. Planning is key, plan for every eventuality. I have had an amazing mentor in Miriam Simon of www.pto.ie who has been a touch of a button away since March to present day and on hand for advice before that for anything I needed. If you’re a small business, like we are, get yourself a mentor or a peer group that you can discuss things with and sound ideas off. It’s so easy[or it is for me anyway] to take your own opinion as the only right one! Get someone who isn’t afraid to tell you you’re off your head sometimes.
The dishes that can be made from the ingredients we have rather than what ingredients are needed to make a dish is always the beginning of our thought process for menu designs. Ireland and Donegal in particular, has great products in every corner. Our food offering is casual with homemade and home baked goods, fresh every day. The evening offering is an extension of the daytime with some great specials that change as we find inspiration. You can kick back with a pint of Guinness, a craft beer or a glass of wine. One the best parts of our jobs is choosing wine, we have a great relationship with our suppliers and they know we’re always on the hunt for special bottles of the good stuff. Our current coffee house roast is The Good Coffee Cartel from Glasgow. We love this stuff. I actually went to visit them a while back and got a good feel for what they do and what they’re about. They keep sustainability in mind as well which is a plus.
Our retail aspect has been a welcome addition where you can pack your bags with all the great food, coffee and wines we will have sourced for you to put them on your tables at home. The retail side of our business has been what has driven us to make this shiny new website and webstore. Our webstore has all our in store products on it plus wine and coffee subscription’s. You pay for either 4, 6 or 12 months and we send you out the wine/coffee with tasting notes, and how best to drink/prepare. These subscriptions make the best Xmas, birthday etc presents. Also a wonderful treat yourself monthly surprise! We hope to continually expand and are always on the hunt for great Irish products to fill the shelves with. If you’re a supplier get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Donegal is so exciting now in terms of food and beverage offerings, innovation and award winners. There has been massive individual investments in enterprise over the last couple of years in the county and it’s great to see so many of these pulling through and being successful. We want to be a part of that! We’ve been extremely lucky with national press coverage over the last year and we were named in two different exposes by The Irish Times – Top 100 Places to Eat in Ireland & Top 100 Places to have Lunch in Ireland. It’s such an honour to be recognised by Irelands top food writers and to be in the same company of some of the amazing places on the list. We are also featured in Sally & John McKenna’s Wild Atlantic Way publication and have got the prestigious plaque proudly displayed on our front wall. It is so humbling to be in the company of Irish food heroes and greats.
When we get this Covid-19 mess over us hopefully we will be continuing this story with many more advances, awards & great stories! See you all soon.