Community based coffee house for all the family

With the food and drink sector continuing to grow in Ireland, current Esquire franchise owners, Fergal McGovern and Rhona O’Sullivan, have capitalised on this growth by opening their third store.

Since the end of the recession in 2013/14, Ireland has seen a small renaissance in the level of purchases made in coffee houses and eateries across the country. More people have disposable income and are choosing to spend it on themselves. With this new period of growth, Esquires have ensured they stay ahead of the curve by having current franchise owners, Fergal McGovern and Rhona O’Sullivan, open up their third location, in Mullingar. The new store opened its doors in April of this year and is already enjoying a huge success.

McGovern and O’Sullivan’s other two Esquires Coffee stores are located in Longford and Carrick on Shannon, and have been successfully operating for the past six years. Carrick opened in late 2008 and Longford opened mid-2010. The coffee industry in Ireland as a whole is very competitive and especially so in both Carrick and Longford. Apart from some excellent local artisan businesses both Carrick and Longford have national and international operators in their midst including Costa, O’Brien’s, Subway, McDonalds and KFC. When you put those figures into perspective, running a successful franchise takes on even more credence.

McGovern is pleased with how the last few years have gone, not just in terms of franchise success, but also for what it has done for the community as well: “Success can be measured in many different ways. Perhaps the greatest success is the creation of so many permanent and part time jobs in two relatively small rural towns. In 2008 when we opened Carrick, 8 jobs were created, whereas today between both stores, the total number of full time jobs is 25 and we have 10 part time workers as well. This for me is what running a franchise is all about; giving something back to the community.”

With local community very much in the forefront of the operating model of McGovern and O’Sullivan, they were rewarded for their approach in 2012, when they were jointly awarded Leitrim Business people of the year in 2012. The Award was merited for their outstanding contribution to business in the community and establishing themselves as very hard workers and leaders in the community in a business where on-going excellence is achieved through the provision of superior customer service.

The Mullingar store is larger than a normal coffee house, coming in at 5,000 sq. ft. Having so much room allowed McGovern and O’Sullivan the chance to separate off about 1,000 sq. ft and introduce a Kids Educational area into the location. Within the area are iPad’s with Montessori games and a reading corner, where all the books have an educational theme as well as offering varied maps on the walls. “We very much see the distinction between a kids play area and our kids educational area. Parents who bring their children in for a beverage have commented and welcomed an area that is not only educational, but also has plenty of seats in the area for them to relax and enjoy their coffee while their kids are catered for as well,” says McGovern.

As well as offering an area for children to enjoy themselves, the coffee on offer is also something to shout about. All coffee served at the store is 100% Fairtrade and Organic and the theme of giving something back to the community, regardless of location, is one that is adhered to in all aspects of the business. “Offering Fairtrade and Organic coffee is something that we feel very strongly about. It would be difficult for us to call ourselves truly community-centric, if we sold coffee that was not in line with those very ethics we pride ourselves on,” concludes O’Sullivan.