“I’ve been here since May 21st last year,” said Veronica Taglienti, proprietor of her eponymously titled café in Waterford’s Book Centre, “and I’m just thrilled to be here”.
That Veronica, who previously operated the Rose Café in Mooncoin, is tickled to be running a business based in one of the country’s most distinctive book stores was evident within two minutes of our conversation kicking off.
“I’ve been coming in for years,” she stated. “I love reading. I’d get my book and sit over there by the balcony and for me, coming in here was my time out, my time away from the world. I’d said it more than a few times that if the space became available here, that I’d love to take it on.”
Veronica continued: “Then last year, my brother-in-law caught wind of the fact that the lease on the café had become available and he got onto me straight away. So that same day, I rang Maeve Ryan (Managing Director of The Book Centre) to let her know I was interested. I didn’t waste any time! Maeve came out to visit us in Mooncoin and she liked the look of where we’d done with the Rose Café, the vintage shabby shic look, and here I am! It’s such a fantastic location and I felt that there was going to be a queue of people expressing an interest in it – it’s just the place to be. It’s such a fantastic spot, it’s so inviting – I just love the whole history of the building.”
Many of the design touches Veronica brought to the Rose Café have been subtly worked into her Book Centre space. “I wanted genuinely old things in the café,” she said. “The typewriter sitting on the counter shelf was something I picked up in Cork; two friends of mine, Pat and Marianne, also helped me out a lot in tracking down items in markets and so on – we put a lot of effort into it. I wanted to create the sense for customers that they were walking into someone’s parlour – the pretty tea cups we use here are genuinely old as well – and I’ve maintained that theme here as best I can. When Maeve came into us in Mooncoin and saw what we were about, I’d said to her that I’d like to do something similar in The Book Centre, and fill this space as best I could by recreating that relaxing backdrop, to have the pretty tea cups and the nice plate for your scone. It really is a lovely place for friends and family to meet, catch up and relax.”
Situated between the book store’s ground floor and Scholar’s upstairs, Veronica’s Café has a unique city centre business throughway, a level of footfall that few other coffee shops can bank on. And having hosted a Bake Sale for Temple Street Children’s Hospital on Saturday last, the third year Veronica has hosted such an event, the importance of giving something back and being an active community contributor is clearly not lost on the Clonmel native.
“It’s just a fantastic location,” said Veronica. “And like any industry, there are quiet times and busier times – Christmas was just brilliant for us, for example. When tourists come into the building, they don’t necessarily realise how big it is from the outside looking in so I’ve posted photos of the café using Google Maps to promote ourselves and that’s working well for us. I’m using social and traditional media to promote the business: it’s all about getting our name out there. As our first anniversary approaches, it still all feels very new here. We’re gaining regulars, I’m getting to know a lot of customers on a first name basis and we’re getting a lot of lovely feedback too. The sense of welcome that customers feel when they come up the stairs here and sit for a cuppa and something to eat, sure that’s what it’s all about. I just couldn’t be happier.”
So what’s on the menu at Veronica’s Café? “We serve light breakfasts daily while at lunch we serve homemade soups, paninis, wraps, toasted sandwiches along with something for your sweet tooth, be it scones, cakes and apple tarts. In terms of baking, if it’s not done here, it’s baked in another kitchen. I do buy in some gltuen-free produce to avoid any cross-contamination, so to speak but all of the scones, cakes and apple tarts are prepared here in our kitchen. When the scones are being baked each morning, the aroma wafts around the building and it’s something the staff in the Book Centre and Scholar’s are always commenting on. It’s giving them hunger pangs!”
With a “fantastic team” of seven on the books, including both Veronica and sister Sindy, that relaxed sentiment Veronica extolled about her café (which seats approximately 42) was instantly palpable, her staff chatting amiably with customers while we spoke.
“It’s just been 100 per cent positive for us here,” she concluded. “The footfall is just brilliant and being based here in Waterford city centre, and having the café in this wonderful building, it’s definitely the place to be.”
Veronica’s Café is open from 9am to 5pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
and from 1pm to 4pm each Sunday