Paula Sneyd had a dream of opening up her café ever since she was in her early 20’s. Having three children she felt it wasn’t the right time until they were grown up. During those years, she honed in on her skills and worked as a chef in many successful businesses and continued to upskill on her business education.
I was lucky enough to meet Paula and her daughter Saoirse when I started working in Kennedy’s Food Store in 2011. Paula was a chef and Saoirse worked with me on the floor. Her sister Caoimhe worked with us when she finished school for a short time too before heading to study Culinary Arts. We all went our separate ways and life went on, as it does.
In 2016 it was a delightful surprise to see that Paula, Saoirse and Caoimhe had united forces to create Cloud Café in North Strand. Paula’s dream had finally become a reality.
Their primary focus was to create delicious, healthy food with high-quality ingredients at a reasonable price. They have successfully created a neighbourhood café that connects with their residents and surrounding businesses in a very relaxed and communal manner. Paula has teamed up with the local community gardens (Mud Island Community Garden and Pat Murphy Community Garden) to deliver fresh vegetables and herbs every day.
Cloud Cafe has always reminded me of a café you’d find in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I love how they constantly evolve with their community. There is very much an ebb and flow between the customers and the business. Simply, it’s just a cool place to be!
With Paula running the business and the kitchen, Caoimhe as sous chef and Saoirse as front of house, they make the perfect team. Since opening, they have gone from strength to strength and during COVID they collaborated with local artists and businesses to use their unused space as a shop front for customers. Thus, reinforcing their community vibe.
What type of business is Cloud Cafe?
Cloud Cafe is a small café rooted in the local community. We try to use the best products possible while keeping things at a reasonable price.
Was this a long-standing family dream and how long was the planning process?
We always talked about it when the time was right. I did a start your own business course, a chef course and worked part-time in different restaurants. I’ve been talking about it since I was 20 and it was only much later after the kids had grown up that I thought the time was right.
What do you love about having a small business in Dublin 3?
It’s brilliant! We love it. It’s just such a good area. There is so much going here. We’d always wanted a place not too far from home so when this premises came up, it was perfect. North Strand is just such a wonderful collection of local families who have been here for years, young couples and families plus a load of small businesses.
What positives would you take from the last 18months?
That our business model is able to survive during difficult times and that we are able to adapt and grow stronger in a difficult situation. We turned our front, glasshouse area into a shop front for local businesses. This was a fabulous way to connect with the community.
What is the business ethos/philosophy?
We wanted to give people what they want at a reasonable price but always provide healthy food. We try to cater for vegans and vegetarians as much as we can.
What advice would you give to people looking at starting their own food business?
There are so many entrepreneurial courses out there that are either free or low cost. Network as much as you can; you realise you’re not alone in this and everyone is very willing to share their knowledge and help whenever they can. There are local businesses that are connected by WhatsApp groups that are there to support each other. This has been invaluable to us. We are willing to help and give advice to anyone and would be more than happy to talk to them.
If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook?
We would probably just have a table of nibbles and wine. (Too tired to cook ;-))
Saoirse: Anthony Bourdain, love him! Hector O’hEeochagain and my cousin Shauna who lives in Amsterdam.