Dining with a conscience.
Since opening in November of 2017, Gerona Deli and Cafe has become on our of favourite lunch haunts. From the hearty hot-pots and stews to the fresh, crisp salads (with some amazingly decadent pastries added into the mix) they serve all pallets and tastes. However, the attraction of this cosy breakfast and lunch spot goes far beyond the wonderful food they serve up.
From the get-go, Gerona has always had its eye on the carbon footprint cafes such as their own leave behind. In Ireland alone, we generate an average of 61kgs of plastic waste per year - which is nearly double what the UK produces.
Gerona Cafe and Deli operates on every level with this in mind. All the food they prepare is delivered via 100% compostable materials.
So the amazing food paired with this effort to help our planets future has made Gerona one of our favourite places to wile away a couple of hours. We were delighted to be able to catch up with owner and chef Geraldine to discuss how the business started and why they feel the move to use compostable materials was important.
Was your background in cooking and baking Geraldine or when did your interest in food begin?
I moved to Galway in 2002 to study hospitality management and got a job as a kitchen porter in the Spanish Arch Hotel. I quickly discovered that I was really interested in food, something that had never even occurred to me before. I didn't have to think about it at all, just went where the interest took me from that point onwards.
What was the best part about opening up your own cafe and what were the tough parts?
The best part about opening Gerona was getting to do the job I want, in the city where I want to spend my life.
There were some tough parts to the process but they can also be the most exciting parts: finding a location, deciding on decor, getting the fit out done and designing the menu and the brand… there's just so much work behind the scenes before you can open your premises; you need a lot of patience and energy to keep you going until you can finally get up and running.
Which leads to my next question: what advice would you give someone that is considering starting up their own business?
Expect lots of obstacles!
What made you want to follow an environmentally conscious business model?
A lot of our business is take-out meals, so the decision to use compostable packaging was easy; there was just no way I would use single use plastics.
Was it difficult getting the business up and running using compostable materials?
It definitely required a little more time and care for testing the functionality of the packaging that was available. It is also more expensive to use than plastic. However, when you consider that our packaging is suitable to go into the organic waste bin, and that so far we have prevented almost 1 tonne of non-recyclable packaging from going to landfill, it really doesn’t seem like a lot effort to achieve that end.
Is there a definite movement towards making this possible in the food industry now?
That’s my impression and I’m optimistic that the industry will make this a priority in the near future.
What has been the best part of running Gerona so far?
The food: coming up with new ideas, testing them out and trialling them with our customers, who are happy to get involved and give us their feedback. I love the food we have on offer every day and it’s a great pleasure to feed the people of Galway!
Keep up to date on the menu over on the Gerona Deli and Cafes Facebook page or find them on foot below!