Nestled on the bustling Great George’s Street in Dublin, The Good Food Store stands out as a destination for quality food-to-go for the busy Dubliner or curious tourist.
With only the best ingredients used to produce their wholesome homemade food, The Good Food Store carries a sterling reputation. Every morning fresh pastries, sausage rolls and freshly ground Ariosa coffee are made on demand, and at lunch their delis are packed with tasty sandwiches, toasties, salads, soups and hot-pots, perfect for a lunch on the go.
Owner and passionate foodie Vanessa Clarke shares some key tips with IF&CR on how to achieve sustainable success in the food-to-go market.
“I opened my first shop in 1995 to fill a gap in the market. At that time there was no clean or organic food available in Dublin apart from in Health Food Stores, and no farmers markets either. After we opened we hit the ground running, and as well as the shop I provided catering for the film and music business. If someone was in town and needed something Organic, or Vegan or Vegetarian we were the go to caterers.
“The food industry in Ireland has changed immensely. We now have great food available to all, but there is still a space for a proper food market in Dublin City.
“We don’t have any hidden ingredients in our food, it is all homemade but contemporary. We also offer great selection and choice and cater to all dietary requirements. Proving a service that helps to sustain the environment is also very important to us, and we have never used plastic packaging.
“Consumers are very tuned into what is good for them and the environment now. Cooking at home is becoming a forgotten skill amongst young hard working people because they just don’t have the time anymore, so they tend to eat well during the day and snack at home.”
Like most independent retailers, Vanessa battles against her consumers’ dependency on multiples and supermarkets. However, with the rise in consumers’ demand for fresh, organic food and food-to-go, The Good Food Store customer base continues to grow.
“The biggest challenge in Dublin City centre is the oversupply of food outlets. Retail is dwindling and rent and rates are creating a barrier to market for start-up retail units, which is a pity as independent opened retail is what will set us apart as a city. We are now mainly Big UK and American brands only, but the downside of that is that big brands are suffering from the online shopping trends so properties are being leased to food units instead and there are just too many to sustain.
“To tackle this issue we have been growing our catering side of the business and offer a great service including a fully compostable option. We also cater to Vegan, Coeliac, and Vegetarian clients. My 15 years in the events business as given me the skills needed to cater for an event of any size or in any location.
Over the last few years there have been various trends with convenience food and healthier diets. For Vanessa, the switch to ‘Healthy and Green’ bares dangers that shoppers need to be aware of.
“Bigger brands tend to hide the hidden ingredients and additives in order to sell under the Health Food banner, but on closer look it’s not always actually healthy food. If your body doesn’t recognise an ingredient it can’t digest it and there are no benefits. I think the food industry needs stricter regulation in terms of marketing.
“In our South Great Georges Street shop the biggest job we have is to stay competitive and relevant. Our customers are city workers who need good food at a good price served in a timely fashion. We work on this every day. We adjust our menu to suit trends and we change our menu with the seasons.”