We caught up this week with Ciaran McGarvey of – Batch Coffee House Bar & Kitchen. Batch is the latest addition to the Donegal food scene in the Gaeltacht town of Falcarragh. We pulled Ciaran away from his busy opening schedule to ask him a few questions about his exciting new venture.
Why did you decide to start your own business in Donegal and why Falcarragh?
In 2016 I was working in Dublin and had no intentions of moving back home but when an exciting job opportunity presented itself around April I came back and have loved being here every day since. After working in Dunfanaghy for two years my attention turned to my hometown of Falcarragh. Falcarragh was a town that was busy and prosperous in the 90’s and hopefully with the right decisions and investments we can get back to that. I think most of us have a draw and a connection to our hometowns. It’s the people when it comes down to it. 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 plus a chance to make a living by the coast why would you be anywhere else?
What have been the challenges to getting open for business?
This question could command an entire interview by itself! I have learned so many skills over the last 10 months or so since the start of Batch. Patience being the number one I think. 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 the summer. I did think getting my team together would be a challenge in a small community like Falcarragh but I have got so much interest and CV’s are still coming in nearly a month after a small bit of advertising. There is so much talent around- it’s been great to see!
You’ve been busy renovating the space and planning the interiors. What can people expect from the moment they walk into Batch?
The one upside of the drawn out nature of the process has been the time I have been afforded to plan the interior and branding of Batch. The space itself was a complete 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 I 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!
Have any businesses in Ireland inspired your vision for Batch?
One of the first places that I remember being in and thought I want something like this is a great spot in Dingle called Bean. It is a small shop with a focus on coffee, a casual atmosphere and the best sausage rolls I’ve ever had. Serious about what we do but we don’t take ourselves too serious is the vibe I picked up from them and that’s something I want to recreate in Batch. There are so many other great places around Ireland at the minute. Shells Cafe in Strandhill, SweatBeat in Sligo town, Lost & Found in Coleraine, The Counter in Letterkenny, The Shack in Marble hill Dunfanaghy, The Old Barracks in Tipperary – I have stalked them all! Panama in Belfast and Shoe Lane in Dublin are two Instagram obsessions of mine.
Tell us about your food and beverage offering
Focus will be on what dishes can be made from the ingredients we have rather than what ingredients are needed to make a dish. Donegal has great products in every corner. We have an amazing source of fruit, veg and everything else in between here in Falcarragh at Na Tithe Gloine/The Glasshouses which will feature heavily in our dishes. Mulroy Bay Mussels and The Haven Smokehouse are two more examples of incredible Donegal producers which we hope to include on our menu. The food offering will be casual with homemade and home baked goods, fresh every day.
The evening offering will be an extension of the daytime with some great specials which will change regularly. Licence pending, you will be able to kick back with a pint of beer or a glass of wine. We have chosen Cloud Picker Coffee as our house blend and will have guest roasts from various other great Irish roasteries available every day. We are also planning a retail aspect to the cafe where you will be able to 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.
What do you think is missing from the Donegal cafe scene?
What I struggled to find in Donegal or anywhere else in the country really was a licensed café – which is what I am bringing. Somewhere that smoothly transitions from day time serving in to the evening, somewhere that you don’t need to leave, go home and get dressed up to return to if you don’t want to.
How do you feel about having Batch open for the whole year and not just seasonally? Like some businesses in this part of Donegal.
When I finally get the doors open I think the year round trading will be my biggest challenge. In saying that Falcarragh is a working town with big schools, more employment than you would think and a future that is heading the right direction. We are abundant in assets and attractions: two great new astro pitches; a new, state of the art community centre; a massive GAA community and lots of great outdoor attractions like the Park Run and the beaches. Endless opportunities for the perfect #instasunday or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc.
Describe Batch in three words.
Coffee House, Bar & Kitchen – that’s four but you’ll let me away with it!
Finally, when will you be open for business?
We have a few big weeks ahead of us but plan to open in March. There will be plenty of noise about it on all our social media platforms leading up to opening day so stay tuned!
Follow Batch on facebook, Instagram and twitter https://www.batch.ie/ for more….