A much-loved chocolate café in Cork city has featured in Cork City Council’s Thank Cork It’s Christmas video, showcasing all that is Christmas in the city.
Cocoa in Winthrop Arcade shut its doors during the country’s first lockdown, after which owners Brendan and Carol Cashman welcomed new customers and experienced a lot of support from locals.
Carol Cashman told The Echo that their seats were moved out to the Arcade, which is “nicely ventilated and open at both sides”, with the help of other vendors, to make ”a nice communal area”.
Having operated on a takeaway basis for the six weeks of Level 5, the seats are now back in place and Ms Cashman said that they have been busy welcoming new customers since reopening.
She said that she has seen “the best in people during all of this” with people continuing to support their local businesses in the city centre.
Ms Cashman said that “several new avenues opened up” with the café’s move online for the first time, after receiving a Trading Online Voucher with the help of the Local Enterprise Office.
She said that small weddings were a new market for them, as was the corporate avenue where employees were sending gifts of their homemade chocolates and truffles to employers.
“With the whole supporting local and buying local movement, the fact that our product is made from scratch in Cork and sold in Cork all by local people, has been huge.
“We’ve seen a whole new wave of people over the last six weeks while open for takeaway, who would make it their walk into town within their five kilometres. They’d get their hot chocolate and might stand in the Arcade for a few minutes for a chat and walk up to Fitzgerald Park.
“There were a lot of nice buskers on the street, so people came in and got their hot drink and made it their outing for the day and we had a lot of older people telling us it was their saviour to be able to do that,” she said.
She said that for many, their hot chocolate stop was the only encounter with others throughout the day, particularly for those working alone from home or from an office, who she said “really appreciated a little bit of conversation”.
“I really saw the best in people during all of this and for the most part people want businesses to do well and they supported them and continue to do so now. There’s a just gorgeous atmosphere around the city at the moment,” she said.