Trading Stories: BeanTown Cafe bringing a touch of Boston to the Rebel County

Trading Stories: BeanTown Cafe bringing a touch of Boston to the Rebel County

Richard Otto and Jimi Riordan of the Beantown Cafe on the Model Farm Road. Picture: Larry Cummins

A new cafe on the outskirts of Cork city is bringing a touch of Boston to the Rebel County

Cork native Annalisa Riordan met her husband Richard Otto in Boston more than 15 years ago.

The couple settled in Brooklyn, New York where they lived for ten years.

During that time, they set up and ran their own cafe for five years, while also raising three children.

The lure of Annalisa’s hometown eventually saw them sell the business and relocate to Cork in 2017.

The couple, along with Annalisa’s brother Jimmy Riordan, set about establishing a new venture right here in Cork not long after returning to Ireland.

Keen to bring the Boston feel to the Rebel County, the trio opened the BeanTown Cafe on the Model Farm Road in September last year.

Almost a year on, the business is thriving, having received a warm welcome from locals in the area and cafe-goers from further afield.

The Bean Town Cafe on the Model Farm Road. Pic; Larry Cummins
The Bean Town Cafe on the Model Farm Road. Pic; Larry Cummins

Speaking to The Echo, Jimmy explained how he left his role as an English teacher to help his sister and her husband with their new venture.

“As a new father at the time and after witnessing the success of their previous project, I enthusiastically decided to leave my job as an English teacher and embark on a slightly ambitious project, with Rich, in opening a cafe in my old neighbourhood of Bishopstown,” he said.

“We somewhat naively decided to design and carry out all the renovations ourselves, which took over seven months.

“We managed to survive without killing each other and eventually opened in September 2018 and despite the long hours and hard work which have ensued, we are very proud of our endeavours and of our own little cafe at the heart of a wonderful neighbourhood,” he added.

The arduous process of setting up the business began all the way back in December 2017.

“After nine months of paperwork, food and coffee sourcing and graft we finally opened the doors to the public on the 18th of September 2018,” said Jimmy.

“We planned, designed and built everything ourselves, which contributed to the lengthy process and although we were quite proud of our achievement, we were unable to rest on our laurels as the next nine months proved to be just as testing and strenuous,” he added.

With the cafe well and truly established in the area, the trio have a routine which they adhere to to ensure the smooth running of the establishment.

“Rich and I are responsible for the day to day running of the business, while Annalisa handles paperwork etcetera,” explained Jimmy.

“Although we don’t open until 8am, we are in two hours earlier to prep the food for breakfast, brunch and lunch, while the 4pm close is followed by a one and a half to two-hour clean up, so our days can be quite exhausting, but rewarding nonetheless.

Bean Town Cafe proprietors are (seated) Richard Otto and Jimi Riordan. Pic; Larry Cummins
Bean Town Cafe proprietors are (seated) Richard Otto and Jimi Riordan. Pic; Larry Cummins

Breakfast, brunch and a hearty lunch, the cafe offers plenty with options for everyone and it has been busy since opening day - busier than the owners could have anticipated, Jimmy admitted.

“In retrospect, I don’t think we anticipated quite how busy we would be from the offset,” he explained.

“The neighbourhood had been crying out for a place to hang out, meet friends and family, relax and read, or just eat good food and enjoy great coffee and thankfully we were able to provide it, so the workload has been immediate and relentless.

“The opening of the cafe was met with an endearing positivity from the locals,” he added. “We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to have such overwhelming support.

“It’s really quite humbling and I think the community deserves a place they can call their own.”

As well as giving the community inhabitants a place to call their own, Jimmy said the trio were keen to bring a taste of Boston to the locality.

The cafe is adorned with Boston based souvenirs and memorabilia and the theme even extends to the cafe’s colour scheme and logo.

“Well, Beantown is a nickname for Boston, and it just so happens to be the place where Annalisa and Rich met and spent their first few years together, so in a sense it’s where the journey to BeanTown cafe began,” explained Jimmy.

“The cafe’s colour scheme, decor and even the logo - designed by a very good friend of ours, are all influenced by the city and it’s famed baseball team. Since we’ve opened many customers have brought back souvenirs from Boston, which now decorate the shop,” he added.

Jimmy explained that the cafe has attracted custom from all walks of life as the locality includes a wide range of inhabitants, businesses and organisations.

“It really does vary,” he said.

“We’re lucky in a sense that we don’t have a particular ‘type’ of customers.

“We have an eclectic mix of regulars,” he added.

“We’re surrounded by schools, factories, offices, apartments and chimneys, so you’d be surprised at who could walk through the door on any given day.” To cater for all these and more who enter the cafe, BeanTown employs one full-time barista and four-part time staff members.

“We currently employ one full timer, Ciaran, our treasured barista, who has been a huge help to us,” explained Jimmy.

“We have four part-time staff, who have all been fantastic over the past few months in providing a welcoming and efficient service.

“We’ve been quite fortunate in our choice of staff with each member helping us to create a cosy and friendly atmosphere,” he added.

With a busy first 12 months almost in the rearview mirror, Jimmy said the trio are keen to focus on the present rather than looking to far ahead.

“At the moment we’re concentrating on the present and taking things step by step,” he explained.

“We are always looking to improve the layout.

“We hope to continue to modify our menu to include more vegan and Gluten Free options and to source locally and responsibly,” he added.

“We also hope to expand outside and provide more all-weather seating. We’re constantly striving to get better, so who knows where it will bring us.”

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