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Swanning Around MVP with Eoin Sweeney

INTERVIEWS • THU 3RD MARCH 2016

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"From the staff to the regulars we all just have a great laugh."

Over the last 12 years Dublin based Bodytonic Music have grown from sweaty basement club-nights to proprietor of some of Dublin's most exciting bars and spaces. Over this period they've prided themselves on the liveliness of their spaces, they've housed everything from a book shop to a barbers to record store in their flagship nightclub WigWam (formerly The Twisted Pepper). MVP, their offering in Harold's Cross, Dublin 8 is no exception. During the day when their award winning mixologists are resting up Eoin Sweeney and his Café En Swan takes over the premise to offer up toasties and delights to their D8 faithful. We caught up with Eoin to find out what's with the name and how does he manage flipping the space daily. 

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Hi Eoin, tell us a little bit about yourself and the Café to get the ball rolling?

Well my is Eoin but most people know me by my nickname, Swan, which comes from my surname Sweeney. I am the owner/main barista at Café En Swan. My background is two fold, I’m both a trained graphic designer and a fully qualified (apprenticeship trained) bartender. I've worked either part time or full time as a bartender for the last 17 years. I've also worked part time or full time as a freelance graphic designer over the last 10 years. Yes, I do like to keep myself busy.


So from being a bartender/graphic designer how did Café en Swan come about?

Before I opened the Café I was mostly working as a freelance designer so I was eating lunch out a lot and going to different cafés and restaurants every other day. I've alway been a big sandwich person and so I was eternally searching for Dublin's best sandwich or toastie and then trying to find the best coffee to go with it, they are not always found at the same place, well until now! I've always loved cooking too, so any time I got a sub-standard-sambo I'd think "I can do better than this", I guess Café en Swan is me putting my money where my beak is. On top of this, I just enjoy interacting with people so this is a perfect space for me to do both.


We love the name Café en Swan, it’s a real attention grabber, where did it come from?

How I decided on the name is a little long winded and involves a drink or two. The short version is that I wanted a name that was funny and that also involved my name (Swan). I had numerous options but whittle it down to two, Option 1: Cafe en Swan — a poke at Café en Seine because it's not a really a café it's a bar and its not on the Seine. My café maybe in a bar but it is also housed right next to the Grand Canal where the swans live. Option 2: Swan's Nest Cafe — this was a pun on Nescafe. In the end the decision was easy, as I was worried Nest Cafe might be associated with terrible coffee. My friends Dave and Nikki Darcy was instrumental in this process.


How do you get the message out to your customers that the Café is in the same space as MVP but is a different unique business?

It was mainly word of mouth that let people know we were here to begin. We did some flyer drops to local businesses and Griffith College, which is around the corner, we also use alot of social media like Facebook adverts as well to get the message out. We still get people coming in for a beer and we'd have explain that it's only coffee, tea and food till 4pm, a lot stay when they smell our delicious coffee and grub. We also really look after our customers to make sure they continue the word of mouth and ofcourse come back regularly themselves. We are still growing but the future is looking bright.


What is your favourite part of Cafe en Swan?

The people, it would have to be the people. From the staff to the regulars we all just have a great laugh. On top of this there is a great amount of satisfaction in making someone a coffee or a sandwich and them really enjoying it. Getting positive feedback is pretty much what its all about. Nothing better then happy customer. Finally working for myself is also a very good thing, it can be tough at times but if it wasn’t you probably aren’t doing it right.

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Do you ever collaborate with different professionals or other businesses in the café?

We have one main weekly collaboration with Free Yoga Dublin. Every Saturday and Sunday we host 4 yoga classes with them. They are run through Meetup.com and the classes are free. There is a donation box for people to be sound but the idea is if you have no money you can still do a class, meet some people and stay for a coffee after if you like. The classes are great and we have 3 different levels to choose from. For any yoga-goers we do a meal deal, so you can get a yoga class and lunch for less then a €10. What does the future hold for Cafe en Swan? The future is a beautiful unknown (or secret)! Gradual improvement is the main objective, I try for us to be better as a café week from week, month to month. We are constantly searching for the perfect sandwich! It's a never-ending quest but we are seeing great results like being voted in Lovin Dublin's - Top 4 Dublin Toasties. 


Finally, we’re hungry, what has Swan got cooking?

We keep our special fresh and season but this week's special is Swan's Beer Can Chicken in a coronation coleslaw on French sour dough bread. It's amazing, if I do say so myself.


For more on Café en Swan keep an eye on their Facebook, HERE


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