Olivia Farrell opened Olivia’s Café on Shop Street in Tuam two years ago. She tells Barbara Collins what it’s like running a café in a provincial town in the West of Ireland.
Food for Thought – FFT.ie: Why have you decided to open a café?
Olivia Farrell: I decided to open the cafe as I felt that there was a demand for a family friendly and affordable restaurant in Tuam. Somewhere that I would like to bring my own kids that is comfortable, and child and buggy friendly. I spent the summer of 2016 with my family in the US and I loved the American style diners. The booth style layout of the café was created from our experience in the US. I feel it creates an intimate and private atmosphere and people like to come and chat with their friends without being overheard.
What was your vision for the café?
I wanted the café to serve good food in a simple way that is affordable to families and all my customers. I never envisaged a high-end restaurant as I felt that demand is well catered for in Tuam. I wanted it to be a go to place to meet your friends for a cuppa, a chat in a relaxing atmosphere.
What type of food do you serve?
We serve a large range of food. We serve a cooked breakfast as well as a healthy slimmers breakfast and omelettes. We have also have a 100% gluten free option. For lunch we do a full menu from a range of salads, dinners, burgers, and lighter lunches like a sambo and cup of soup. We also have a large range of tasty treats from Belgian waffles (sweet and savoury), pancakes (sweet and savoury), soft serve ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, sundaes, knickerbocker glories and cakes all made to order in the cafe. We also have a wine licence and we serve Prosecco, a range of cocktails and glasses of red or white wine.
What are the most popular dishes?
For breakfast the omelettes are very popular. For lunch, our ‘Wrap Things Up’ with a cup of our homemade soup is the bestseller. From the Tasty Treats menu, the pancakes with Nutella and strawberries has got to be the favourite for all ages.
What challenges have you faced since opening?
The main challenge is to judge the busier days to have the right amount of staff on to meet customer demands. The other big challenge is to try to keep on top of the overhead costs of running a small business.
Who are your customers?
My customers are the young and old from mothers with toddlers, the family in for the pancakes, people working in the town centre for the lunch break, the school children in for the milkshakes, the elderly in for the cuppa and a chat. We cater for everyone and that is why I love it so much.
What are you future plans?
We have a function room upstairs and we cater for all types of parties for groups of up to 30 people. I plan to promote this room more in the run up to Christmas.