If you’ve stepped inside Organico Cafe since the start of the New Year, you’ll have noticed quite a few changes have occurred since we closed on Christmas Eve. See what these changes are, and why each one of them was inspired by our commitment to improving the time you spend in the cafe…
A new year, a new layout
As soon as the day dawned on 27th December, 2019, a crew of renovators entered the cafe to begin work around the clock. The goal was to complete the renovation by the morning of the 6th of January, so the cafe wouldn’t remain closed any longer than it usually does for the Christmas holidays. The diligence of a team led by Keith (husband of Rachel Dare, who runs the cafe), Keith's father, and a good friend John, meant that the cafe was ready to open right on schedule.
What looks different
Now when you visit the cafe, the first thing you’ll notice is that the salad bar, which has been prominently visible since the cafe opened in 2002, is no longer within view of the dining room. Instead, you’ll find a gorgeous new counter and barista bar which allows us to showcase our specially locally-roasted coffee from Red Strand Coffee, and our own handmade organic cakes and treats from our bakery.
A better layout for better service
But it’s not just our looks that have changed, we’ve also restructured the way we serve you. Before the renovation, you would order and collect your food at the counter then find a seat. Now, we’ve established a system where our front-of-house team is completely dedicated to looking after you. We still operate with counter service, but once you’ve ordered, you get to relax while our kitchen team prepares your food and brings your meal to your table.
The new layout essentially means an end to canteen service and the start of table service. Rachel explains, ‘Previously, the end product was more like a deli than a cafe. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a good deli, but it didn't allow for the kind of dining and food experience that we wanted to give our customers.’
Why we decided it was time to change
The new cafe layout and system isn’t just an idea that popped into our heads one morning late last year. It’s actually a transition Rachel has been planning to make since we doubled the size of the cafe five years ago. Finally, all the pieces fell into place, and we were ready to make the leap.
‘Before the renovation, we knew that our food and recipes were great thanks to an abundance of beautiful, organic produce, and our strong kitchen team that prepares and cooks the dishes,’ says Rachel, ‘but we also knew our system could be better, and that by making these changes we could give our customers a more interesting food experience.’
Hiring a new head chef in the spring of last year is one of the factors that made the changes in the cafe possible. Before returning home to West Cork, Chef Annmarie worked in kitchens all over the world, as well as notable Irish kitchens including Pilgrim’s and Hayfield Manor. We’re delighted to have her lead our kitchen and bring her experience and talent to the cafe. As soon as she joined the team, Annemarie embraced our ethos which focuses on really tasty dishes, food sustainability, and organic farming practices.
And now that Rachel and Annemarie have the space, equipment, and system in place to support a more innovative and creative menu, the two will be constantly collaborating on fresh ideas for meals to make for you.
A stronger environmental stance
From the very start of the cafe—in fact, from the very start of Organico over 25 years ago—sustainability and environmental awareness have been a fundamental part of our ethos, but not something that we necessarily shouted about. Now, Rachel intends to make the business’s environmental impact a bigger part of the day-to-day running of the cafe. ‘I feel as a business owner that I should be doing everything I can to reduce the cafe’s environmental footprint, and making decisions that support positive change. I think this is the least we can all do.’
Along those lines, we’ve completely done away with single-use takeaway cups in the cafe. We’ve gone with the scheme 2GoCup which allows you to pay a €1 deposit for a reusable cup in the cafe, which you can then exchange for a fresh cup every time you come in for a takeaway tea or coffee.
We’ve taken on the responsibility to initiate positive change by creating a menu with a stronger emphasis on vegetarian and vegan dishes, reducing food waste by watching portion sizes and continuing to compost, and changing to recyclable glass packaging for our take-home foods like pesto, hummus, and salad dressings.
How it’s all going
Rachel’s reaction to the first week after opening on the 6th of January:
‘Quite honestly, it was one of the best weeks of my working life so far. I could not be more proud of the food we have produced and of our whole team who hit the ground running and enthusiastically embraced the changes. And the customers who dropped in to wish us Happy New Year and give us so much positive and heartfelt encouragement was the icing on the cake.’
The next time you visit the cafe, we look forward to treating you to an experience that’s been a long time in the making. Behind all of these changes is our desire that you come into Organico Cafe and feel like you’ve made a wonderful choice for your health, your happiness, and the planet.