Doyle’s Deli: Why local SMEs are the heart of rural Ireland

Doyle's Deli & Food 2 Go | AIBF
Left to Right: Denis Mullin, Director, Laura Mullin, Director & James Doyle, Manager at Doyle's Deli & Food 2 Go with their All-Star Accreditation certificate and medallion.

Irish SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy.

The sector played a vital role in pulling the economy out of the labour market crisis in 2012, and will likely play a very important role in pulling the economy out of the COVID-19 employment crisis.

Recent studies show that SMEs account for 99.8% of private business enterprises in Ireland and employ more than 1.06 million people.

Doyle’s Deli, a twice accredited All-Star Business located in the village of the Royal Oak in Bagenalstown, County Carlow is a shining example of an Irish SME with sustainability and community at its heart.

Dennis and Laura Mullin told the All-Ireland Business foundation that while Government support is crucial to the future of rural businesses like theirs – business owners and customers can have a huge say in the future of Irish SMEs and local economies.

“We’re an independent deli business and we really champion the concept of sustainable local business,” Laura said.

“We hire and buy local and we rely on excellent customer service to make us stand out from our competitors who are part of larger chains and franchises.”

Doyle’s was established in 2011 by the husband & wife team Denis & Laura Mullin along with the help of Laura’s parents, Kevin & Marie Doyle, who owned and successfully ran the same business from 1996-2003.

Today, the deli is famous for its award-winning Jumbo Breakfast Rolls and homemade lunch specials.

Doyle’s Deli has embodied the support local ethos through its careful selection of suppliers and staff.

When construction of their new bespoke Ice-cream parlour in the Royal Oak began earlier this year, Laura and Dennis made a point of choosing local tradesmen to do the construction work on the shop.

“We felt it was important to use local tradesmen because many of them are actually our customers who would be in and out of the shop regularly,” said Dennis.

“It was lovely to be able to bring them into the project not only because we knew them but also because it was our way of supporting the local economy here.”

He explained that Doyle’s has been successful because of its excellent reputation for quality food and for its community spirit.

“We actively encourage our staff to get to know our customers and have a bit of craic with them,” he said. “Community is what we’re all about.”

“We also try to create a fun, positive atmosphere in the shop amongst the team because I believe the collective mood of your staff is reflected out on the shop floor.”

“We also make the effort because we are lucky to have great people working for us.”

“As an independent business Dennis and Laura are not restricted by a set menu, which allows for plenty of room for improvisation and change.”

They are constantly researching new trends in food and give their four in-house chefs license to get creative with the menu.

“The biggest benefit of being an independent business is the ability to steer our own course and pick and choose where our business is going to go and what suppliers we can buy from,” Laura explained.

“It also means we are really agile – we can make changes really rapidly because we’re not restricted to using certain suppliers and we’re not part of a larger chain.”

Doyle’s Deli has been named Carlow Small Business Of The Year 2021 by the All-Ireland Business Foundation in recognition of its contribution to trade and commerce in the county.

Reacting to the announcement Laura said: “The Accreditation has given us a huge lift. We see it as recognition of the hard work that our brilliant team has put into the business and into ensuring our customers are properly looked after.”

When we announced the news on social media we got a huge reaction from our customers. It was lovely to see their comments and their feedback and let us know that we are moving in the right direction.

Dennis added that the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of supporting local business.

“We’ve been lucky enough to watch young people grow up, go to college and come home as teachers, solicitors and tradespeople,” he said. “They have been able to do that because of a strong local economy.”

“If a small town loses its businesses then its heart is effectively ripped out.”

“We will continue to support our fellow businesses and tradespeople here in The Royal Oak and Bagnalstown because we value the place where we live and we value our community.”

To learn more about Doyle’s Deli & Food 2 Go, visit their All-Star showcase page here.