WHEN he decided to set up a new ‘deli’ shop in the heart of Cork city, Tom Creedon was following in the footsteps of his mother, Marion Creedon Hegarty.
However, when he decided upon a name for his new business in Paul Street, Tom decided to pay tribute to his father.
“My father, Tom Creedon Snr was from Masseytown in Macroom. That’s why I’m calling the new rotisserie deli in Paul Street Masseytown,” says Tom, aged 39, who previously worked as a stockbroker abroad.
Tom Creedon Snr was a something of a local hero, both in life and in death.
He played GAA football for Cork for years and the Tom Creedon Park in Macroom is named after him.
“My dad died in 1983,” says Tom. “I was just a baby, 19 months old.
“I was in the back of his van when he was moving furniture. He stepped out of the van for a moment and the van began to roll down the hill.
“Dad did his best to divert the van heading down the hill towards a group of children in its path. He slipped under the wheels and he was seriously injured.
“After being in a coma for 16 weeks, he passed away. He died, I survived. And he saved those children who were in the van’s path as well. He died a hero at 28.”
Tom — whose mother Marion Creedon Hegarty is a successful businesswoman and opened Color Me Beautiful on the Grand Parade — says he is naming his new business venture Masseytown as a wonderful gesture to honour his father.
“I’m tipping my hat to him. It’s like I’m putting a great big hug around my dad,” he said.
“It makes me feel good.”
Masseytown, a small area on the northern outskirts of Macroom town, was a place Tom Creedon Snr loved so well, as does his son.
“Tom Creedon Park is one of the few places in the world that I love to be,” says Tom.
“It is a lovely legacy to dad.”
Tom now wants to bring the country into the city, and is following a family tradition.
“My granny had a country store in Macroom. She sold milk and dairy products and the Creedons had a creamery back in the day.
“Here in the ‘grab and go’ deli in Paul Street, I’m using all local produce, including the milk, the poultry, the meat, the bread. The milk is from a small farm in Macroom. The coffee is from a Cork-based supplier, Soma in Tuckey Street.
“The meat is coming from Tom Durcan and the chickens are coming from Riverview in East Cork.
“Kevin Aherne, from Sage in Midleton, is providing some ready meals for sale, while here in the shop we’ll be offering delicious pulled pork and roast chicken dinners to go.
“Hot sandwiches are always popular and I think the modern trend for working people in the city is grab and go.
“Our sandwiches and hot meals will be a healthy lunch option and instead of the traditional takeaway menu, we’ll provide a good healthy, hearty dinner option.
“I think the way forward for busy working professional people for lunch or dinner is to grab and go.”
In the depths of winter, it will be great to get something hot and tasty to eat or to bring home.
“That’s for sure,” says Tom.
He wants to promote Cork food producers from his premises in the former Brackens Bakery and Café site opposite Tesco.
“Fresh produce will be delivered every day from small Cork artisan food producers, coming from the farm directly to me.
“For instance, a local farmer is providing me with my microgreens. Masseytown is a community-based enterprise. If I grow, the food producers grow.”
How did Tom go from a stockbroker working around the world for 13 years to Cork sandwich-maker and meal-maker?
“I worked as a stockbroker after graduating from UCC and from Smurfit Business School,” says Tom.
“I worked as a stockbroker in London and as a sales trader in the South of France.”
It sounds exotic and glamorous?
“Yes, it was at the time,” says Tom.
“I worked in Hong Kong for two years and in Tokyo for a year as a stockbroker, returning to Hong Kong for another seven years. I loved it. And that’s where I saw the popularity of the rotisserie food trade. It was my go-to on the way home from work.”
Tom was footloose and fancy-free.
“I was a young buck! I had a good time — maybe a bit too much! I loved the travelling. From working in Asia I moved to Mozambique for 18 months where I set up a mining company with my best pal.”
What was that like?
“It was a bit crazy!” says Tom.
“We lived out in the bush. But I loved the change and the adventure. We experienced loads of different cultures and it also opened our eyes to poverty and to the struggles people have.
“Life is short. It’s good to try and make the most of it.”
After Tom made the most of his travels and his adventures, he decided to return to his roots.
“With business still going good, I returned to Cork,” says Tom.
And to his mother.
“Yes!” says Tom smiling. “I really admire her.”
He had gained admirable worldly experience on his travels.
“I realised that money isn’t everything,” says Tom. He thought being back home meant everything.
“It was lovely being back,” says Tom.
He decided to indulge in one of his passions being in the right place at the right time.
“In my twenties, I rarely cooked,”he says. “I worked night and day.”
He followed his heart and his belly, looking towards his next venture much nearer home.
“I always loved food and I was lucky to get a job in O’Mahonys in Watergrasshill, where I was mentored by Victor Murphy, who showed me how the industry worked.”
Tom worked his way up.
“In the beginning I was scrubbing pots in the kitchen!”
After a year in O’Mahony’s, Tom went to Ballymaloe Cookery School where he signed up for the 12 week cookery course, honing his skills before taking the plunge to open up the shop in the city.
“I did a few stints afterwards in the city. But my ambition was always to open up my own place.”
The Paul Street premises in the hub of the city seemed a perfect location for his exciting new venture.
The Macroom native is not afraid of hard work.
“We’ve been working over the last few months to get the premises ready. We’ve all the equipment ready to go and we have the gas and electricity connected. We’re just waiting for the extractor fans to be switched on.
“At the moment we are serving coffee, hot chocolate from O’Connells and hot crepes from the hatch at the side of the shop. We hope it’s all systems go later this month.
“We’ll drive on in the springtime. There are four of us here at the start. Ultimately, I hope to employ 15 people.”
Tom has a little help from his friends in getting ready for the big opening.
“We started in October. My girlfriend, Natalija, a qualified architect who took a year out before embarking on her Masters to help get it off the ground, was in charge of the design of the shop.
“My uncle Aiden Hegarty has been hands-on here every day. We were flat out. It has been a real labour of love.”
Does Tom think it’s risky opening a business amid a pandemic?
“I’ve taken risks before,” says Tom.
He’s brave like his dad.
“I’d like to thinks so,” says Tom, whose business concept is original and refreshing.
“It’s not a sit down cafe because of Covid but apart from that I think the time is right to cater for young professionals in the city who want a tasty hot lunch or a hot nutritious dinner to grab and go.”
Tom, in front of house, will be hands-on.
“The concept is, I pull the chicken out of the oven, slice it up in front of you and put it into the sandwich.
“And I really want to give the local farmers some shelf space, bringing the country into the city.”
He’s bringing Masseytown into the city.
“I hope it benefits the community,” says Tom. “It’s not a franchise. It’s just me.”
And his proud dad looking down on him, sending his son one big hug.
Masseytown Rotisserie Deli in Paul Street is opening soon.