Start-up activity in Limerick is holding strong, despite the effects of the pandemic on the economy, with many entrepreneurs continuing to launch new ventures in a host of sectors.
Just over 190 new start-ups got started in the city and county in the first three months of the year alone, according to the latest Limerick Economic Monitor, published last month by Ernst & Young.
Anna Coffey Lynch launched her start-up Braw last year, in the middle of the pandemic. Now, Coffey Lynch is already in expansion mode.
The chocolatier is opening a new outlet at the People’s Museum on Pery Square in Limerick city centre, where she will operate a coffee shop, stocking her small batch chocolates and baked goods.
“Limerick has been so welcoming and supportive since I began the business. Limerick wants new businesses opening and wants them to be successful,” Coffey Lynch said.
“We’re really fortunate that we now have this beautiful historic space as our base and we’re hoping that our presence will bring some life to an otherwise quiet laneway in the Georgian Quarter.”
It was while she was in her final year, studying business at Limerick Institute of Technology that the Dooradoyle woman realised that she was spending a lot of time at home learning how to make croissants.
Rather than pursue a career in business, as she had originally planned, Coffey Lynch decided instead to go into the culinary field.
Following a stint as a commis chef at Vaughan Lodge in Lahinch, Co Clare, in 2010, she moved to Dublin where she learned the art of chocolate-making.
“I was initially hired as a pastry chef, but moved on quickly to train under the head chocolatier there, then took his position when he was moving away,” she said.
Coffey Lynch returned to Limerick in 2018, after her son was born, and worked as a pastry chef at both Adare Manor and the Good Room, a café in Adare village.
It was after she was laid off, that Coffey Lynch said she “accidentally started a business” selling baked goods to friends and family.
“I started out delivering care package-style boxes to my friend’s doorsteps and soon I was getting requests from other people through word-of-mouth,” she said.
By the summer of 2020, Coffey Lynch had set up Braw and was delivering her chocolates all over Ireland.
“I was presented with an opportunity to begin supplying cafés and restaurants wholesale, so I decided to take a unit at Crossagalla Industrial Estate on the Ballysimon Road,” she said.
“I have two chefs now working alongside me in the kitchen and two other employees. We supply several cafés in Munster, and a number of shops and cafés in Dublin with small batch chocolate bars.
“The bakery is definitely the busiest side of the business. Right now, we’re making, on average, 600 brownies a week.”