From 30 seats to 80: Inside The Creamery Cafe’s grand expansion

The Creamery Cafe | AIBF
The Creamery Cafe Team photographed with their 3 In A Row All-Star Accreditation Certificate.

In 2019, Ronan Galvin decided to expand his independent Salthill cafe business.

Almost overnight, The Creamery transformed from a quaint cafe with 30 seats into a busy restaurant, cafe and ice-cream bar with an 80-person capacity.

“It was a big jump,” Ronan told the All-Ireland Business Foundation. “My rent and overheads rose right alongside my square footage so I needed to pull it off”.

“I don’t have any business partners so it took quite a bit of courage to ‘take the corner’ and go for it. I suppose It was a leap of faith in myself”.

In truth, Ronan couldn’t have taken his leap of faith at a worse time…

A year after The Creamery’s expansion, Covid 19 ripped through Ireland – forcing closures of hospitality businesses up and down the country.  As quickly as it was born, Ronan’s 80-seater operation was reduced to a hatch in the front door, serviced by a skeleton staff.

Like many small businesses, Ronan was forced to think on his feet and adapt to the uncertainty as it played out over the long months.

Luckily, The Creamery’s location on Galway’s famous Salthill Promenade kept a steady stream of customers coming to the business – enough to tide Ronan over until grinding lockdowns were lifted.

“It was a really tough time,” he said. “Ultimately we were saved by location, the loyalty of our customers and the various Government supports that were put in place at the time. The sad reality is that many businesses haven’t reopened, and I’m very thankful that we’re still here and still trading.”

Ronan and The Creamery are beginning to see the benefits of their 2019 expansion – sales have more than tripled since he fully reopened last year and the extra space has allowed the business to add new product offerings and events.

“A lot of people feel that success in this business happens overnight – they don’t see how much you’ve actually got to put in beforehand to make things happen,” he said.“I’ve been involved in the hospitality industry since I was 15, I qualified in hotel and restaurant management – so I did choose it as a career path.”

“The passion has to be there from the start to want to look after people – you can’t only be looking at the euro sign. You need to enjoy interacting with people, chatting with your customers and making them feel welcome so you can deal with the harder parts of the business.”

Ronan’s drive and passion for the hospitality industry have been recognised by the All-Ireland Business Foundation which has named him AIBF Galway Entrepreneur 2022.

Reacting to the achievement, Ronan said:

It’s an honour to be named AIBF Galway Entrepreneur Of The Year. The accreditation is important independent recognition of the quality of our service and a wonderful acknowledgement of the hard work that has gone into building the business.

“Business All-Star Accreditation adds greatly to the reputation of The Creamery and it lets our customers know that they can expect All-Star service.”

Location and goodwill aside, Ronan’s resilience and love for the hospitality trade have allowed The Creamery to survive and thrive through the last couple of years.

“For me, one of the most exciting parts of the expansion was the move from buying in gelato to making it all in-house through a dedicated production facility,” Ronan revealed. “We went on several trips to Italy to research methods, materials and ingredients that we could bring into the business.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to offer something totally unique – you can’t get my ice cream anywhere else and bringing that USP into the business has been great for us.”

Ronan Galvin, Director of The Creamery Café with their 3 In A Row All-Star Accreditation certificate and medallion.

The Creamery has built a strong reputation and a loyal customer base that raves about the quality food, coffee and gelato churned out daily by the cafe’s All-Star team.

But Ronan’s secret sauce isn’t bought, sold or made…

“Consistency has been the key to our growth, Ronan explained, “but it’s been the hardest practice to implement”.

“For us, consistency means investing in good equipment and maintaining with regularity so that when a regular customer comes in for their cappuccino, they know they’re going to get a great coffee every time.”

“In this business, you’re really only as good as the last plate of food or cup of coffee you put out because the reality is people notice the difference – we have customers who noticed when we changed the flour in scones!”.

“It’s about turning up every day which is actually the hardest thing to do, but by far the most important”.

The Creamery Cafe is located on Salthill Promenade and is open Monday to Thursday from 8 am – 8:00 pm and Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 8 am to 9:00 pm.

To learn more about The Creamery Cafe, visit their All-Star showcase page here.