In the latest instalment of DIY Dublin, Joe Donoghue chats with the guys behind Dublin cafe and gallery Mish.Mash. Photos by Abi Denniston.
So tell us a bit about how Mish.Mash got started? Who’s idea was it? Had either of you worked in service or hospitality before?
The idea for Mish.Mash was always somewhere in the air. We both knew what atmosphere we would like to have in our café and what kind of café culture we would like to show and sell.
Our experience was more than enough to start finally something without a “boss”.
How is it running a business with family? Do sibling tensions ever run loose in the business or do you have a sound system of handling shop and staff between you?
Every family business is running in a different way I suppose. How to handle it? Finding your own way!
You’ve garnered quite a following for yourselves online. Do you feel a lot of your success is due to your effective presence in social media and the fans you’ve made there?
Mish.Mash’s face in social media formed itself, with some help of friends and family at the beginning. Our smile has grown seeing how fast and how many people liked what we did.
Do you check in with TripAdvisor and Yelp pretty religiously, or do you prefer not to let reviews dominate your judgment?
It is important to care what other people’s opinion about the business is. Everybody can make mistakes. We are not an exception. So it is good to hear good things, but as well bad and just try to make it better.
What’s the most popular dish on the menu, past and present? What’s been your absolute favourite to make?
‘To make’ and ‘to eat’ it’s a difference. The Apple and Cinnamon cake is exquisite (what we are told). From savoury, each of our customers can find something for themselves so it’s difficult to choose. To make.. if you do something what people like and appreciate you have pleasure in preparing everything.
Are you both fans of cooking and baking? Do you collaborate with staff or even customer input when thinking of dishes to serve?
One of us in more into cooking, the other into baking. We both love making coffee 🙂 We are always open to suggestions, so far, our guests are happy with our proposals.
Do you have any exciting new ideas or recipes for upcoming menus that we can anticipate?
How have your friends and family been supporting you over the past couple of years? Do they rally everyone they meet to come in and enjoy the place?
Something like that. We got great support from people around us, our friends and family. Physical and mental. They all seem to keep their lucky fingers crossed continuously. And we want to thank them all for that.
How is your staff? Do you still have people who were there from the beginning? Do you think they enjoy themselves as much as your loyal customers?
You should ask our employee but we hope so! People who were in Mish.Mash from the beginning are us. Two of us were ‘our’ first employees, again with some help from friends on the way.
Reality TV is constantly growing more and more popular among restaurant entrepreneurs. Would you ever consider turning Mish.Mash into a popular series if the right offer came along?
Never say never.
When did you start inviting musical artists to perform in your shop? Was that always the vision you had for Mish.Mash from the beginning, or did it develop organically?
This idea was there from the beginning. We wanted Mish.Mash to be not only about coffee, food and relax but also about music and art… a total mishmash. We started with Lazy Sunday. That was a once-in -a -month event on a Sunday afternoon with some interesting electronic music and good friendly atmosphere. After a good few months, when Abi did her exhibition in Mish.Mash, she invited a few musician for her opening. That was something new in nice environment with beautiful selection of music. We decided to change, at least for now, electronic music for acoustic.
Do visual artists bring as strong a presence and following through your door when you showcase them? Is it equally important to you to support both visual and musical talents?
Of course. Once we have space which we can use to support, why not? Changing art on the walls and changing types of music played in Mish.Mash,many times are a good excuse to start conversations between customers and also for us; as well as to see their reaction and know their opinion.
Do you think the artistic element has increased your presence and popularity downtown?
It creates something different and people seem to like it. Changing the image of café behind just an eating place.
How do you enjoy your Capel Street location? The real estate comes with lots of variety. Is that all part of the experience you want to give your customers?
We were wondering at the beginning, but Capel Street surprised us in the best meaning of this word. There is the element of adventurous discovery of this quiet part of Capel Street. And a very strong community feeling. We love it.
Any plans to open another shop, either in Dublin or elsewhere?