The focus of this (mini-) part of the recent trilogy of articles about Two Pups Coffee on Francis Street seeks to provide budding entrepreneurs, who wish to get a foot-hold in the ever expanding coffeehouse market, some valuable advice from two proprietors, operating at the cold-face of a business start-up. For this, the Promoter interviewed Kevin and Zoe and got to down to the nitty-gritty about the efforts required in order to launch, build and then continue to distinguish their business in a very crowded market-place.
1. Ok then, let’s get straight to it, are you having fun?
K+Z: There’s certainly elements of fun in the work we do. Meeting people and finding out about their lives is a huge part of the daily buzz. Trying new coffees and figuring out what we think people would enjoy is also fun.
2. What was your biggest challenge getting launched?
K+Z: Actually it was deciding to go ahead with doing it! Once Two Pups was up and launched it seemed to take on a momentum of its own.
3. What are the major challenges for budding coffeehouses in the Dublin scene presently?
K+Z: Getting good staff. It takes a surprising amount of time to train as a barista and there is a lack of trained people around, so small businesses have to invest time and money. Getting a good location at a reasonable rate – it can take a while to find the right spot. Building a customer base – with such low cost individual sales you have to make sure that you’re getting a solid number of people through the door every day.
K+Z: At 74 Francis St there are four businesses running side by side, we support each other and work together in making the space work – it lends the building an extra level of energy and there’s always something going on.
5. What is the impact of social media on promotion of Two Pups?
K+Z: Mostly we use Facebook and Instagram, occasionally Twitter. Social media is useful in getting our name to a wider audience, even an international one. It also allows us to communicate directly to our customers – for instance telling them if we have a particular coffee on that day or if we have an event coming up.
6. Just so people with that ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ are made fully aware of the task in hand, setting up a coffee shop in the city centre, what would be the most poignant piece of advice you could give them?
K+Z: Be ready for long days! Get some training in, maybe volunteer to work in a busy cafe for a few days. Make sure you have a passion for coffee – read all the blogs you can get your hands on, invest in good equipment – people these days know their stuff and will walk away if they think you don’t have the right gear for the job.
7. Ever thought of giving up?
K+Z: Every now and then!
8. In 5 years from now, from a career perspective, where would you like to see yourselves and Two Pups Coffee?
K+Z: It would be fantastic to see Two Pups flourishing as a busy speciality coffee shop supplying delicious sandwiches and cakes, maybe with a brother pup on the north-side!
9. Loose Leaf Tea drinkers are typically community spirited, dependable, ‘team-players’, always willing to put their ‘shoulders to the wheel’. Would you see any of these traits in yourselves?
K+Z: Yes, absolutely! One of the great pleasures of Two Pups is the feeling of community it has brought, not only in the shop itself but getting to know the people who live and work in the Liberties. The only way to get a cafe up and running is with the ‘shoulders to the wheel’ so that part is a definite yes!
Two Pups Coffee shop is located at 74 Francis Street. Kevin and Zoe, many thanks for your time and ongoing support of ‘Personal-a-Teas’!