Resilience the secret for Town Coffee Company

Mikey and Bernadette with their staff at the Town Coffee Company last December.

The story of success of the Town Coffee Company is one of resilience and commitment.

Mikey and Bernadette Shinnick’s coffee shop has become a regular location for morning coffees and lunchtime treats since they opened in late February 2020. 

Located at 2 Lower Cork Street, Mitchelstown, it is in a prime location, but that location has not soothed the challenges of a year drifting in and out of lockdown. 

It is a dream come true for Mikey, from Mitchelstown, and Bernadette originally from Cahir. 

“I bounced around a lot, I did English and film studies masters in college. I did multiple different jobs, i worked in apple, LAYA, and working in logistics in Lilly, I had no science background at all. 

“I was just always looking for something. Bernadette and I were sitting in a coffee shop, O’Neill’s in Skibbereen. It was one of the nicest places in the country.

“I wanted to do something where we could get the same feeling we had when we were sitting there relaxing, it was an unreal feeling. I just felt that this was what I was looking for,” he said. 

The couple, who met in college, had travelled and experienced a lot of different experiences across the globe.

“We’d end up on holidays because through an interest in food and coffee, we were led to certain places. 

“We were making decisions on holiday destinations on whether we would get nice places to eat – in the end we’d focus on the food and coffee and not see any of the historical sights,” he joked. 

Two years passed but Mikey and Bernadette made good on their plan and set about realising that dream. 

Mikey, spent time at home perfecting his coffee brewing skills before launching the final effort to open the shop. 

He spoke of the battle to get the cafe off the ground – but struck gold with a newly vacant spot on Lower Cork Street. 

“In the summer of 2019 I though that this could really work. We looked in Cork, and were just looking at where would be best, and we agreed that it would be best to open in Mitchelstown.

“The owner of the building has been great and really helpful, he helped us meet people and to determine how viable it would be. 

“June 2019 was when it really started to gather speed, like thinking about money to start up. We were refused by plenty of banks so we had to find any means necessary. 

“We worked through the planning and the fire cert where there were a few hiccups, I dug channels for the plumbing myself, built the counters and the seats – we had no choice but to do most of the work ourselves,” he added. 

Mikey gave up his job in November 2019 and then spent December through to the opening day on February 21 getting the place ready.  

“It was very rewarding to have done it the way we did it. It was great to see the idea evolve into the shop and we learned an awful lot.

“It also showed us the importance of resilience in business. It is so important to get the right trades man on side and I would always recommend that but our backs were against the wall and we had to do it ourselves and find a different way. 

“Despite the refusal of the banks, we still said this is going to happen,” he added 

Mikey said that they opened and the foot fall was huge, they already established regular customers but then the unthinkable happened – Covid-19.

“It is hard to articulate what that was like when the country was shutdown. I remember sitting out the back and thinking I have a family to support and that this is possibly going to implode. 

“In a way the resilience we had to start the company helped us push through and to see the resilience across the country of similar businesses is nothing short of amazing,” Mikey said. 

Any lunchtime visit to Mikey and Bernadette, becomes clear they have a committed staff serving simple but skilled food options and superb coffee. 

They source local ingredients – from the artisan sourdough bread from Novak’s Bakery to the international flavours of local company, Horgans.

Their commitment has seen them honoured with a plaque from the McKenna’s Guide but for Mikey and Bernadette it is the joy of seeing returning customers.

“We have a lot of plans for the business. We have some ideas we are planning but in the immediate future we just want to get it back to a sit down cafe with that atmosphere. 

“For us that idea of chatter, a nice playlist with good food and coffee is what matters – we are really looking forward to getting back to that,” Mikey concluded.