Network is the latest contemporary café to open on Aungier Street. Owned and run by a DIT Graduate, its aim is to serve top quality coffee to the masses in the city centre.
Oliver Cruise studied Business and Management in DIT before continuing on to study for his post graduate degree in accounting in the college’s Aungier St campus. Cruise remained in the area for 18 months afterwards as he worked for a nearby accounting firm where he had completed an internship while studying in DIT, before moving jobs and working for a company in the bustling IFSC. While in this job Cruise was working in bars and restaurants at the weekends, something which he says complemented his family background in the services industry and lead him to taking the leap to open Network.
Internally, Network is the epitome of a contemporary café with its wooden furniture and chairs, and minimal decoration which all falls easily on the eye while customers wait for their high quality coffee to be served to them.
“What we call the bar here we have two different coffees, there’s a house blend 3FE, and we have a single origin which is a bean from a single region, it’s a bit more expensive but it’s a bit more flavoursome, it’s higher level coffee, that’s a guest roast. At the minute we have a place from London called Workshop Coffee supplying that.”
“Obviously we have 3FE and they have single origin options as well and then last week we had caravan from the UK and we’re constantly rotating it, using these products, being associated with these really good brands; creating customer awareness of us gets people in here. We post up on social media advertising it and bring in this upper-class coffee drinker, without being snobby or anything. There is a growing market for very high-class coffee and we’re trying to appeal to that. Like I said our house blend is very good as well the single origin is very good and we try to educate the customer base and once they try it they’re like ‘Jesus, that’s really good’ and we bring them along with us.”
Situated at number 39 on Aungier Street, Cruise believes the area has the potential customer base to help his company become established on Dublin’s thriving coffee scene.
“I just felt Aungier St, if you look at the three new businesses, Aungier Danger, ourselves and Dublin Pizza Company they’re kind of known for a vibrant new area in Dublin and then there’s a large footfall on the street and there’s a few coffee shops as well but none of them are doing speciality coffee like we do. We’ve seen over the last number of weeks with college being back there’s a large potential on the street as it is quite student based with [DIT Aungier Street], Kevin Street, DBS and RCSI. There is also a lot of footfall outside that. Obviously you have to get them into you to get them to be a regular customer which takes a lot of work.”
And it appears the work is being done to attract these customers, whether they were passing by and decided to pick up a coffee, or popping in from one of the named colleges, as Cruise had to pause this interview to help serve customers at the bar at approximately 4pm on a Tuesday in September.
Although the city centre location is prime territory at present, with the pending move of the DIT Kevin Street and Aungier Street students just a few years away, there’s potential for all this hard work in attracting a solid customer base to be undone. However, Cruise does not appear phased by this potential hindrance, “that will have an impact but I don’t think [DIT Aungier Street] will sit there derelict either. It’s a prime location. There’s a lot of speculation about what will go in there, I’ve heard loads of ghost whispers about what they’re going to put in there so I think it won’t sit there empty and if it’s an office building it’s good for us. [The move to Grangegorman is] not going to happen for another four years anyway so hopefully we’ll be in a better position to deal with it. Like I said there is a lot of people outside the college”.
With this optimistic outlook in mind, Cruise is still wary of the future, and knows there’s still a lot Network has to get right before he can begin to think about expanding their reach to other parts of the capital. “We’re only three months here so it’s very much proof of concept with this, get it right. The market is there to expand but get this locked down first, there’s not initial immediate plans [to expand] anyway. Just focus on this and get it as big and the best that we can then we can review. Come back to me next year or in five years,” he jokes.
Check out more pieces from the DIT’s award-winning newspaper, The Edition.