YOUNG East Cork entrepreneurs Nick O’Donoghue and Leigh Dalton decided to put their heads together to give a boost to frontline workers in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nick runs Rooskagh Coffee in Ladysbridge and Leigh runs Messy Buns in Midleton. The solution was a piece of cake!
Now Nick and Lee, as a gesture of goodwill, are bringing supplies of their coffee and cakes to ambulance crews, firefighters, and other key people who are working around the clock to halt the virus.
Often, the arrival of the duo is the workers’ only break in their day while confronting the fall-out of Covid-19.
“Leigh and I put our heads together to try and make some contribution to the people on the frontline who are working day and night for the country,” explained Nick.
“We decided we’d get our act together and deliver fresh cup-cakes and fresh cups of coffee to the hospitals and contact trace centres at the weekends.
“It was something we felt we could do.” says Nick. “And it was something we wanted to do.”
The boys got busy baking and brewing to put their plan into action.
“Leigh made up boxes of 150 cup-cakes and I brewed up 500 cups of Rooskagh coffee for the medics and the volunteers who are working around the clock,” says Nick.
“I loaded up my van and delivered them to the hospitals, garda stations, nursing homes and to the lads at the fire station. It is a small gesture on our part.
“Both Leigh and I feel grateful that we are in the lucky position to be able to do this, considering the challenging conditions that the vital services are working under.”
The doctors and nurses at Cork hospitals, the staff at Midleton Hospital, gardaí at Midleton and Anglesea stations, as well as the firefighters of Cork City Fire Brigade, were all thrilled with the arrivals of the unexpected treats, which really made their day.
“I have to say they were all absolutely delighted,” says Nick. “The frontline workers said the buns and coffee delivery gave them a real boost and the opportunity to take a well-earned quick break from the full-on situation in the hospitals, in nursing homes and at the contact racing centres that they are dealing with day in-day out.
“Some of the buildings were really busy with a lot going on inside so I left the buns and coffee at reception for collection or at security, in the Boole at UCC, for instance.”
Nick says it was great to see the congregation of nurses and doctors enjoying a coffee while social distancing, but still sharing an important human connection.
“A lot of their usual coffee haunts are closed,” says Nick. “So it is difficult for the workers to take time out to source available coffee or snacks.”
The boys sorted that issue out. Leigh, rising at dawn, began sifting, whipping up the butter and the sugar, waiting for the golden mixture to rise; the master baker transformed a bunch of sloppy ingredients into mouth-watering cup-cakes and — Shazam! They were magic.
“Working in very intense environments, it was great to see the frontline workers get a break,” says Leigh.
“So yes, knowing you could give them a little boost with a nice home-made treat was magic.”
His Red Velvet cupcakes are magic.
“Ah yes. The consignment had to be the Red Velvet,” smiles Leigh. “They are something special.”
The frontline workers are something special too.
“That’s for sure,” boys both agree.
A goodwill gesture is welcome at the best of times. “The workers were really appreciative,” says Nick, who, during normal times, is parked up in situ at Loughaderra Lake by 6am where he welcomes the first customers of the day who want their caffeine fix.
“The appreciation of the workers meant a lot to us. The medical staff at the Mercy Hospital were really bowled over when I arrived with the goods and happy to enjoy a well-deserved treat in the sunshine.”
The front-line staff were good to go again afterwards.
“It definitely lifted their spirits,” says Nick.
His mobile coffee business means a lot to him.
“I bounce out of the bed and can’t wait to give the commuters their first of the day,” he says.
Nick doesn’t dread the alarm clock going off very early in the morning, like he used to when he was on the hamster wheel of the same routine every day.
“No. I love getting on the road first thing in the morning, meeting my regular commuters, the walkers and the joggers.”
Leigh, who began his catering career at Hillbilly’s in Grand Parade before swapping the fryer for frosting, is on site, apron on, mixer at the ready, in his shiny new premises at 98, Main Street, Midleton, by 4.30am during normal trading conditions.
“I moved to my new premises on Main Street the week the pandemic broke out,” he says. “You couldn’t make it up! It’s mental.”
His scrumptious cup-cakes are popular with his customers, ranging from pre-schoolers to pensioners.
“I’m lucky I can keep my head above water,” says Leigh. “People are ringing in their cup-cake orders and I have great support here in Midleton.”
Leigh is still putting in the hard-graft to make his business a success.
“Long hours working on your own pales in comparison with the critical front-line workers as they work long hours in challenging conditions,” he says.
The two lads were happy to put their combined talents together, along with their good natures, to cheer up the frontline workers in Cork as they work in challenging conditions.
“Look, everyone is doing their bit, looking after elderly neighbours, delivering meals, delivering shopping, keeping in contact. The least we could do is spend a couple of hours travelling to the workplaces of the front-liners and make our small contribution,” says Nick.
The two good-natured lads, who want to give something back to people making a difference, will make the return journey again at the weekends. They are in big demand.
“When other nursing homes heard we were delivering fresh cup-cakes and freshly brewed coffee, they got on the band-wagon too, requesting we give them a shout,” says Nick.
The Rooskagh coffee wagon will take to the road again, transporting good things.
“Next time we’ll deliver to Conna and Gortrue nursing homes. The residents there are looking to forward to the visit.”
Messy Buns, 98 Main Street, Midleton. Phone: 085-84034555
Rooskagh Coffee mobile unit, travelling to work-places and events. Phone: 087-3508909