In the heart of Dublin 7, SPADE is more than just a shared kitchen space; it is a beacon of support for food and beverage start-ups. Located within the historic St. Paul’s Church, SPADE has nurtured culinary entrepreneurs for 30 years, significantly impacting the Dublin and Irish food and beverage scene.

Having undergone significant development last year, supported by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Dublin City, Enterprise Ireland, and DCC’s Economic Development Office, SPADE is now better equipped to support a greater number of food businesses. The facility includes a state-of-the-art shared kitchen for budding enterprises and fifteen individual “own door” kitchens for more established businesses needing dedicated space.

A Community of Diverse Talents

Bernie Everard, CEO of SPADE for the past three years, speaks fondly of the community’s diversity. “Eighty percent of our membership are non-Irish. They are from South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, and they are hard workers. They are here to make a life for themselves and their families. They don’t know about government bodies and supports, and in some cases, they don’t trust government entities because of where they have come from. So, we help open those doors for them.”

The joy and satisfaction Bernie derives from seeing the community grow is palpable.” It’s great to see a business progress, win a new contract, or enter a new shop. I almost feel like I’ve won the contract myself, except I don’t have skin in the game; they do. They invest time, money, and energy into making their business work.”

Walking into SPADE, one immediately feels the buzz and sense of community among its members. The excitement was especially tangible during a recent SPADE Producer’s Showcase event.

Showcasing a Diverse Range of Food Products

Emer McGrath, the Community Development Manager for the Shared Kitchen, embodies positive energy. Her central role in day-to-day operations is evident, as members frequently drop into her office. “Everyone in this space is at a different stage of their journey, and as such, they all have different needs. Two guys started with us just yesterday, so they’ll still be finding their feet today. Beside them, we have a business ready to go to retail. So every business is unique and different.”

Rachel from Zingi Beer

The showcase featured many businesses and products from well-established brands like Zingibeer and Thanks Plants. Rachel Byrne is part of the father-daughter team behind Zingibeer. She tells us that the company was born during the COVID lockdown and has thrived ever since. It is currently the first and only Irish ginger beer manufacturer. She highlights the support from the community and the Dublin City LEO. “SPADE has been great. Similar-stage food and beverage start-ups surround me, so you can always chat with someone. It’s a collaborative approach. Then, they have fantastic events where we get the chance to showcase our products to new customers. I love being in SPADE.”

Adrianna, owner of Zaira, a Lebanese/Brazilian food company known for its delicious flatbreads, echoes this sentiment: “I would not be here without SPADE. The resources and mentoring SPADE provides us, the help they give us… I am delighted to be here.”

Adriana from Zaira

Adrianna was inspired by the rich ties between Lebanese and Brazilian cultures in her home country of Brazil. When she arrived in Ireland, she realised that, while many Brazilian food businesses were popping up, they had a different blend of cuisine cultures. This surprised Adrianna, as it was common to see this culinary combination in Brazil, where there are approximately ten million people with Lebanese heritage.

Carolina Musetti di Santos is the owner and driving force behind Bake It Happen. This company specialises in baked goods such as bespoke cakes, brigadeiros, and more. Carolina explains where the idea for this company came from.

“It all started with the memories I created together with my mom in the kitchen. She is also a baker, so back in Brazil, I learned the first steps with her. I could see on people’s faces how much they enjoyed the food. So I trialled it.”

Carolina from Bake It Happen

Her business is really beginning to take off, and she has also teamed up with other companies in SPADE for catering projects and collaborations. “SPADE helps us by providing networking opportunities, such as the showcase, and provides real support.”

Supporting Dublin’s Food Start-Ups

Cathy McPadden, a Business Advisor at LEO Dublin City, emphasises the importance of supporting food and beverage start-ups for the Irish economy. “The food sector is vital to the Irish economy, both in export terms and the benefits it brings to the local economy. All businesses must start somewhere. The support that we offer helps new businesses at the initial stage of their journey, with the expectation that they will grow and create new jobs.”

Cathy also elaborates on the specific supports available to start-up businesses. “The main financial supports include the Feasibility Grant, which supports the research of a new idea, including product development; the Priming Grant, aimed at businesses operating for 18 months or less; and the Business Expansion Grant, aimed at businesses operating for over 18 months. These grants provide great support to businesses in their growth phase, and I would encourage entrepreneurs out there to visit our website and look at what might be available to them.”

LEO also supports initiatives such as the Food Starter Programme, the Food Academy programme (in association with SuperValu), Dublin Food Chain, and the Digital School of Food, a learning hub designed to support food manufacturing businesses from start-up to growth phase.

A Glimpse into the Future

As the showcase event winds down, the camaraderie among the members is evident. They check in on each other, ensuring everyone has eaten, sharing laughter and stories over hastily consumed bites of incredible food. This sense of community is at the heart of SPADE’s success.

The future looks bright for SPADE and its members. With ongoing support from organisations like the Local Enterprise Office and a nurturing community, Dublin’s food sector is set to continue to thrive.

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