Setting Up a Business During Lockdown

Our weekends have changed dramatically since the pandemic hit. Saturday was spent texting your friends to organise drinks and dancing for later. Sunday was spent in bed with a bad ‘’headache’’, trying to recover after last night’s actions.

Now, walks and coffee are the new night out. Saturdays are for long walks and trying out a new takeaway hut. On Sunday you might even go for a longer walk and a different takeaway hut. You know, for the luxury.

With everyone and their granny suddenly interested in long walks, it’s given the coffee industry a whole new boost. Many restaurants and cafes are shut due to restrictions making decent takeaway coffee hard to source. Enter the gamechanger – coffee kiosks.

One of these famous kiosks is Bua Coffee, located outside Home Farm FC in Glasnevin. The hut itself is an old horsebox trailer converted into a chipper-style counter area. It’s a small area but offers a range of food and beverages, including toasted sandwiches, protein balls and of course, tea and coffee.

Bua was set up by two friends, Neil Mulhern and Ruairi Cotter after they were forced out of work due to the pandemic. They had always talking about running a business together, but life had other plans.

Speaking to Oxygen.ie, Ruairi says,

‘’I came home from Australia in March. I had been doing journalism for a few years but wanted something different. My friend Neil was also out of work because he worked in the club scene. We always talked about doing something like this before and it just made sense for us to do it now. ‘’

It took some time to plan but the initial idea to execution process was very quick.

‘’We met for a coffee as soon as I got home and before we knew it, we had an idea. We took a few months to plan everything – the location, the equipment, brand, the concept, the coffee and were ready to go in July. It was a complete gamble; we didn’t know if it would pay off but luckily it has.

Since it’s set-up in July 2020, Bua has continued to grow and shows that a risky move taken was a successful one.

‘’We’re coming up on a nearly a year into business now and it’s paid off. We are both from the area and are involved with the GAA so that has helped. People are good and want to support us, especially when so many other businesses haven’t fared so well.’’

Ruairi also says that.

‘’The Insta page gets messages every week asking us for advice on how to get started. It’s a trend, coffee huts are popping up everywhere. For us, we don’t want to be a flash in the pan. Longevity is something we are striving for.

While coffee kiosks boom, restaurants and cafes are struggle to remain open with the current restrictions. Before Christmas, there was a brief two-week window where pubs and restaurants could open. Now they have been shut for over four months.

According to the Restaurants’ Association of Ireland (RAI), over 50% of these businesses will face permanent closure in the wake of the pandemic. There has been calls for larger supports.

Adrian Cummins, CEO of RAI has made several calls for larger supports to be awarded to these businesses. Speaking at a Joint Committee meeting last week, he said

‘’We are very appreciative of all the support so far but it’s not enough. These businesses must be prepared and ready when the guidelines allow them re-open.‘’

Covid and the government’s vaccine role out has left restaurants and cafés, old and new with many obstacles. Only time will tell how businesses will fare against them as the country hopes to ease restrictions in time for summer.

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