East Village Coffee in Clondalkin: serving up to an untapped suburban market

Jonny Barr’s dream of owning his own cafe has taken him all the way home

 

When Jonny Barr decided to pack in his corporate job of 14 years to follow his dream of opening a café, the plan wasn’t exactly to set up shop back in his hometown of Clondalkin. But that’s how things worked out.

“When I gave up my job, people warned me to get experience before jumping into opening my own café. So I did cookery and barista courses, and worked in loads of cafés around Dublin to learn from how other people were doing things,” says Barr. “It didn’t put me off. It just made me want to do it more.”

Barr and and his wife Emma (below) grew up in Clondalkin, their family homes not too far from each other. When they got married, they moved to a seaside suburb of the city but found themselves coming home a lot to see family and friends.

On one such trip, Jonny noticed a former Fás office on the street that was in need of a new tenant. “I was looking for premises all around the city but I kept coming back to Clondalkin,” says Barr. “It’s such an untapped market. It has a lot of growth still to go, with a big population and a lot of people already living here.”

He took on the premises on Monastery Road in Clondalkin Village and, after a period of refurbishment, opened East Village Coffee at the end of November 2016.

Alongside Chef Viv Kelly, who has worked in Avoca among other places, Barr has put together an accessible menu that borrows from the café culture embedded in other parts of the city without steering too far away from the comfortably familiar.

“We’re going from zero here so we don’t want to alienate people,” says Barr. There’s decent avocado on toast with poached eggs, toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, falafel salads, freshly baked scones, and a couple of cakes with a gluten-free focus. They’re executing a simple, homely menu using great ingredients such as Tartine bread and organic, free-range eggs from Rod Carney in Meath.

What East Village Coffee really have going for them, though, is their coffee. Their barista, Bart Kozlowski, comes to East Village Coffee from Urbun Café in Cabinteely. He’s been topping up Barr’s coffee training and working with the rest of the staff at East Village Coffee to make sure every cup is as good as the one I had. It helps that they’re using coffee beans from Baobab Roasters, an excellent micro-roastery based in Celbridge, Co Kildare.

I think it’s fair to say that Clondalkin may not be at the forefront of people’s minds in terms of a place to visit in Dublin, but I would argue that it has quite a bit to offer in terms of a day trip. Round Tower buffs will know that Clondalkin is home to one of four round towers in Dublin, thought to date back to the 7th century. Soon, Clondalkin will be getting an additional hit of great coffee and food with the arrival of The Happy Pear Café and Shop. It will be the Flynn twins’ first Dublin-based café and it will be part of the new flagship development of the Clondalkin Round Tower Visitor Centre, due to open this summer.

East Village Coffee is also less than 10 minutes drive from Corkagh Park, a gorgeous sprawling park that has its own petting zoo, a dog park, vast lawns and woodlands and, somewhat incongruously, a baseball field.

What a perfect spot for a takeaway coffee and a picnic of toasted sandwiches. Swing by East Village Coffee on your next trip to Corkagh Park to pick up a cup of that superb coffee. For more, see facebook.com/eastvillagedub

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