This month, we feature Tracy Keoghan owner of ‘Lemon Leaf’ café in Kinsale. The café is widely known for its great fresh food with tasty desserts and is a popular spot for visitors and locals.
When did you open Lemon Leaf Café?
I opened the Lemon Leaf over a decade ago in October 2010, and we have trebled in business since then. In 2016 we had to extend the kitchen to keep up with the growth of the business. Currently we are transforming the premises into a boutique hotel. We are amalgamating with the guesthouse upstairs which has 10 rooms, and it will now be known as the Lemon Leaf Townhouse.
We know that people want something different, and that’s why we are creating a new destination venue that will set the same high bar as our café. We will have our usual breakfast and lunch fare and will be open in the evening for wine and cocktails and scrumptious local produce. After the past few months, people will just want to meet and hang out, and we are excited to open our doors to them.
How have consumer preferences changed over the last decade?
The biggest change is the demand for more produce from local suppliers. We have always been ahead of the curve in this regard. For example, when Patsy from Patsy’s Corner here in Kinsale was retiring, I asked if she would supply us with her signature Lemon Meringue, and she is still doing it to this day.
How has the business coped with trading restrictions over the past 12 months?
The first lockdown was very challenging, as we had no idea what to expect or when we would be open again, which was really worrying. However, last summer was great, as we had lots of people visiting Kinsale on their staycations. It will likely be the same again this summer. We also had the renovation and expansion project to keep us busy.
Where do you see the business in the next decade?
I expect the hotel to thrive. Lemon Leaf is in the heart of the town and is a very pretty and important building, with the courtyard backing onto the old wall of Kinsale where they kept the barrels of beer and wine and would tether the horses back in the day.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or new business owners?
Don’t do it! Seriously though – it is very difficult now to be in business. We thought we had worries before but nothing prepared us for the past year. However, one has to just keep reinventing oneself, and keep focused on what your customers want. Do what you do best and stick to it.
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