Start with an idea and keep evolving.
CRUST is a staple to the community of Cork. Quality food equals happy people and makes a days work worthwhile. The smell of fresh bread, quality local produce and ingredients, that are barely contained in between the two slices of bread equals a CRUST sandwich. Do things right, keep things simple, and keep the community in mind.
Jim started off with the idea of improving the typical Irish 1990s sandwich. Initially, in 2000, Jim looked around and saw that the typical sandwich, of Cork, was just too simple: two pieces of bread and a bit of meat. The idea to improve the sandwich was planted. It was at this time his brother invited him to the US to start on a new fast food endeavor.
Jim spent about 2 years in the US. While in the States, he saw how the Americans, in New York city, made their sandwiches. The sandwiches had a variety of breads to choose from; and, they were beefy and full of quality ingredients. He enjoyed the time with his brother. However, their endeavor was not as fruitful as planned. Besides, his VISA was expiring; now, he had some solid ideas on how to improve the sandwich that he left behind in Cork.
After arriving back home in Cork, he went about doing some market research. Jim phoned around and visited various offices, shops, and other places in the city. The research showed that there was an interest in his sandwich. However, when he opened up his business, the orders were slow to come.
He went back to the drawing board. He approached convience stores around the city and county. Initially, the orders were slow to start. However, the owners believed in CRUST’s product. They knew that they had a quality wholesome delicious sandwiches. Gradually, people started to buy their sandwiches, in the shops, regardless of the price, because CRUST made a quality product. Eventually, the orders came in very quickly. The kitchen was madly busy. The same corporate businesses that he approached before were now contacting him to cater for their meetings and events.
You need coffee for a meeting. When asked about his relationship with coffee, Jim was initially a tea drinker. He honestly didn’t know how much tea he drank. When asked what changed. He summed up tea and coffee like this. Tea tastes better at home. Where as coffee doesn’t taste as good at home as it does in a coffee shop. Since, we was starting to spend more time on the road, coffee became the go to drink.
Then came the financial market crash. The crash effected everyone in Ireland. Jim had to do some brainstorming. He had to make a choice between closing up shop or evolve. He choose to evolve and develop. This new development created CRUST, the cafe on MacCurtain Street.
CRUST’s initial head barista, Alex choose Calendar Coffee as their primary coffee. Jim has stayed with Calendar coffee. They have quality coffee and their customer care is outstanding.
When asked about what makes a cafe worth visiting, Jim was quick to break it down to three components. First, location is key. You need to have good footfall and easy access. Second, as you have already read, you need quality products: soups, sandwiches, and coffee. Finally, you need to have outstanding customer service. Meaning, you need to be able to read people and connect with your customer in a meaningful way.
The cafe itself is casual and welcoming. Under normal circumstances, there is indoor seating and plenty of workspace. CRUST is dog friendly. There is WIFI and some outdoor covered seating/ standing area. The cafe is super easy to access. Accessibility is something that Jim is particularly aware of as he has done a fair bit of volunteering.
In talking with Jim, you come to realize that he is a very kind and gentle individual. Throughout the years, Jim has volunteered a lot in Cork. He devoted his time to the Irish Wheelchair Association, Order of Malta, and the Lions Club. He has also helped out with the Special Olympics. So, when he started to put together the cafe, he made sure that everyone had equal access to the shop. The big sliding doors open themselves to the people of Cork.
When asked about what to see and do in Cork, Jim took a moment to reflect on all the wonderful things Cork, city has to offer. One thing Cork is not. It is not Dublin or like any other big city, yet it has most of the amenities of a large city.
Things that make Cork, Cork. One you can walk from the North side to South side of the inner city in less than 20 minutes, unless you meet someone and end up having a chat. You can walk from the East side, let’s say form the Harbour of Cork to Fitzgerald Park in just under an hour, or so; that hour,d depends on your walking speed and what catches your interest. You can get to Cork Airport from the centre by taxi in less than 10 minutes, now that does depend on traffic and the time of day.
Quick story that Jim shared about getting too and from Cork Airport. One particular time, before the lockdown, several of his friends and himself were at the airport getting ready to go to Spain. Jim noticed that he didn’t have his passport on him. So, he quickly got in a taxi and went home to grab his passport. He was there and back in less than 22 minutes. As he said, “this is something that would not happen in a large city.”
Now, there are certain things that Cork doesn’t have at the moment. Cork doesn’t have the big name. As a result, we miss out on some of the big names that visit Ireland. Now, in saying that, we did have Ed Sheeran spend a weekend with us in May 2018. Cork city was ecstatic and put on the biggest and warmest welcome.
When you visit Cork city, you feel welcomed and part of the community. There are a lot of people visiting the city. As Jim mentioned, make sure to visit the English Market, the Victorian Quarter, and to walk about the city. Take a bit of time to chat with the locals and embrace the warm hospitality.