Pedro Ledesma opened his café in Tuam, Co. Galway smack bang in the middle of the recession. The unit was in a shopping centre which had lost its main supermarket tenant, but that didn’t put the Madrid native off.
It had been a café before he took it over, so all he had to do was to put his stamp on it and open for business. Five years later and it’s one of the busiest cafes in the town, so what’s his secret?
“First of all, it’s in a good place. It’s literally on the N17, so 30% of my custom comes from the road itself. There’s multi-storey parking (free if you shop in the supermarket which opened a few years ago) and of course, it’s good food at good value for money,” says Pedro.
Pedro had a lot of experience in managing costs at his previous jobs. He was a manager for Compass Group before he opened Pedro’s Café. He was also an Operations Director for Elan in Athlone and he has been a chef at the Spanish Arch Hotel in Galway city.
The unit has space for 40-50 seats, and the diner format is the one he has followed. Typical offerings include burgers, pizza, pasta and paninis. He also does daily specials like grilled fish and chicken Kiev.
“I find that my customers want fresh food, served quickly at an affordable price,” says Pedro.
“I work on the 25% rule. 25% goes on food costs, 25% on staff, 25% on bills and fixed costs and the remaining 25% is my before tax profit.”
That means that the ingredients for his salmon special at €9.95 must cost no more than €2.50. Although the specials go well, he says his bestsellers are chicken goujons, pizza and Caesar salad. Pedro checks what has been selling every Friday to see if he needs to tweak the menu. Last week was particularly good for fish and chips, he notes. The kids’ meals are also doing well.
Nearly five years after opening, Pedro says he has learned what works and what doesn’t.
“80% of my business comes from 20% of my customers. I make sure I look after them. I might want to do Spanish tapas and open in the evenings, but I know there isn’t the appetite for that here. It would work in Galway city, but not in Tuam.”
“I have survived in a deep recession because people still want to eat out. They want to treat themselves but they don’t want to be ripped off. It’s not how much you spend, it what you get for it. If you provide good value, they’ll be back. It’s as simple as that!”
Pedro’s, Tuam Shopping Centre, Tuam, Co. Galway is open
9.30am-6.30pm Mon-Saturday and on Sundays from 12pm till 4pm.