Sector: food & drink, retail
Sisters, Domini and Peaches Kemp, began what was to become the eponymous chain of food outlets in 1999, when they opened the hugely popular itsa bagel store on Dublin’s Abbey Street.
What grew out of a love for New York bagels and a desire to sell gourmet food that was a million miles away from the pre-packaged stodgy sandwiches on offer back then, is now a food company with over five branches of itsa bagel, plus a whole lot more… November 05 saw the opening of itsa 4 restaurant in Sandymount which received widespread critical acclaim and is one of Bridgestone’s 100 Best restaurants in Ireland in its 2011 guide.
In 2008, itsa4 won the Good Food Ireland award for International Dietary providers and was the Bord Bia’s “Just Ask” restaurant of the month for May 2009.
The focus on organic and local Irish produce, good service and delicious, casual food remains its sole focus.
In November 2006, the company opened Table restaurant in Brown Thomas, Cork, and following on from this success, the company took over The Restaurant, in Brown Thomas, Dublin, in April 2009.
September 2008 saw the company open itsa @ IMMA, a modern canteen style café in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which featured as one of Dubliner magazine’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2009.
Feast Catering is the event catering section of the company and has expanded over the years to provide on-site catering services for a broad range of events and venues from canapé and drinks receptions, to gala dinners, weddings and conferences.
In January 2010, Feast Catering was appointed the resident event caterers for the ballrooms in Powerscourt House, Enniskerry, Co.Wicklow.
Itsa… currently employs 83 staff between its various outlets.
When the recession hit in 2008, the company moved quickly to reduce retail prices and focused on three key areas: constant critical self-analysis of the products and services; a pro-active approach to driving down unnecessary costs; and to be honest with management and staff about what needed to be done in order to achieve this.
Increased profitability and low gearing led to a stronger balance sheet which in turn, has allowed the company to grow organically.
Products: Originally the bagels were imported from New York but it was always a dream to make the bagels in Ireland.
After five years of R&D, the company has recently begun manufacturing and exporting the only genuine artisan bagels in Ireland, thereby supporting indigenous job creation.
Customers: The itsa...
company has expanded and developed over the past 12 years.
What began as one small bagel shop has grown into a critically-acclaimed restaurant and cafe group, as well as five itsa bagel stores, located throughout Dublin, and a bespoke outdoor catering and events’ company What advice would you give an entrepreneurs starting out today? Get out there and dazzle!
Has anyone acted as a mentor to you? No, but over the years we’ve met some wise business people, and have picked a few brains in our time.
Has your irish-ness contributed to your success? Forget New York - if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!