WHEN one door closes, another door opens.
And when John Griffin was forced to close his well-known pub in Cobh, The Mauretania Bar, during lockdown, he looked outside the box-and found his Wanderly Wagon.
“When your business closes, you have to look within yourself and see what you can do,” says John, a Cobh native who worked in the UK over the years. He didn’t have to look far.
“The spot where Addicted, a former coffee kiosk, is situated, was previously used by White Star Line who ran the Titanic and has been a staple of the town since the 1800s,” says John.
“I saw this ‘Wanderly Wagon’ for sale and realised its potential as a boost for the town of Cobh.”
John and his creative sister, Cairy Murphy, got the charming coffee and ice-cream shop up and running within six weeks. Lurking behind the counter alongside the flavoursome coffees and impressive range of ice-cream, including seductive Italian gelato, are delicious crepes and waffles ready to be doused in cream and honey.
They are indeed addictive...
“I was the brawn and she was the brains!” says John, referring to his sister’s talents.
“I don’t know if I’m mad or stupid, but I’m always looking at things like this and see opportunity in town. The ‘Wanderly Wagon’ was sitting there doing nothing,” adds John.
“It’s right by Spike Island so there is a great opportunity there. I wanted to restore it and keep it in Cobh.”
The timing was right.
“Now’s the time, we said. We knew the pubs were going to be shut for a while so we got stuck in and got into the project. The result looked fabulous. Addicted is an attractive land-mark in the town,” says John.
“It is an iconic structure, standing 150 years. Now the coffee kiosk is restored to its former glory. It has proved to be a great hit in the town.”
The little colourful candy house, its charming windows emblazoned with a cheery message cheering people up, is extremely eye-catching. It is sprinkled with rainbow colours and originality.
“The next storm could have taken it!” says John.
“If it disappeared, it could never be replaced. When a previous sale for the kiosk fell through, Cairy and I decided to go for it and re-open the popular spot on West Beach right beside the water. It is a lovely setting.”
Had the Griffins any qualms starting a new venture when lots of businesses had to close their doors for good during the pandemic?
“We really didn’t,” says John.
“It presented an opportunity in the crisis. We knew if we did it right, it would be right. By the end of the week, we’ll have 10 staff employed in Addicted.”
“Starting something small might give others inspiration to start something small themselves. I really hope so,” says John.
The Cobh brother and sister make a good team.
“Cairy is very creative and she has a holistic take on things,” says John.
“She has made the Bella Vista hotel in Cobh the success that it is today through her amazing vision. She brought the hotel back to life.”
Now the spot beside the water on West Beach is full of life, with colourful tables and chairs outside, people are enjoying the coffee, the chat, the ice-cream and the panoramic views.
“Cairy came up with the quirky name, Addicted, and she came up with the design,” says John.
“It is really popular with the locals and with day-trippers.”
Cairy, with a spring in her step and a positive approach to life, knew that restoring the ‘Wanderly Wagon’ to its former glory was possible.
“I believe everything is possible in life,” says the mum to three boys. “That is how I live my life.”
She knew the sunny spot on West Beach had a good vibe.
“John left the design to me while he concentrated on the building,” says Cairy.
She had good ideas.
“There are 20 windows in the kiosk, instead of putting the menu in one of the windows; I put up positive quotes there to brighten up people’s day.”
Catching the rays on West Beach with a morning latte awakening the senses makes you want to toast the world.
“The summer music we play puts people in a good mood,” says Cairy.
Cairy, 51, and John, 54, who grew up together, were always there for each other, and are very close.
“John is my best friend,” says Cairy.
“I love him to bits. Now he is the happiest guy in the world.”
How did she come up with the name?
“I think everyone is addicted to something nice,” she says.
“We have to be!”
Not only is the mum a talented town planner in her own right and an interior designer with unique ideas; she speaks the lingo.
“Ask for an Affogato,” she insists in her best Italian brogue when I visit Addicted. “It is a delicious Italian coffee based dessert.”
What about the calories?
“Don’t worry about them!” she says.