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08th Jul 2019

“People are hungry for more,” Boojum’s David Maxwell on Irish lunch culture

Jamie Concannon

“The days of boring sandwiches, soup and soda bread… that’s gone.”

There was a time (not that long ago, I might add), where choice at lunchtime was pretty thin in Ireland. Unless you had the foresight to pack your own, it’s likely that you would have had a choice between your local deli counter and whatever your nearest café was offering.

Fast forward to 2019, and increasing demand and evolving appetites have pushed business owners to adapt and offer something new and exciting. Convenient, tasty, filling and fast, Mexican food ticks all the right boxes for someone looking to grab something on their lunch break.

Managing Director of Boojum, David Maxwell, was speaking on the Architects of Business, in partnership with EY Entrepreneur of the Year, with host Sonya Lennon. Before he acquired Boojum, and was still working on his own project, David had purchased a store directly across the road from the Mexican restaurant in Belfast.

“We brought the keys to it one day, and opened the shutters. I brought a deck chair in and sat there with a clicker and counted how many people went through at lunch.

“I can’t remember what I got to, but I remember going to my brother; “You will not believe how many people come through.’ And he was like ‘ah it’s probably just a burst, maybe everyone arrives at 12 and they all come at 1 again,’ but it was constant,” David said.

“We won’t innovate for the sake of it, it has to add value.”

It’s one thing spotting a business opportunity, it’s quite another moving things forward after establishing yourself. While the ability to change with the times is essential for any business, David said it’s more important to not lose sight of your own core values.

This isn’t always as exciting as taking a leap of faith and making your vision become a reality, but it can often be what separates one from the pack.

“We have a thing in our business we talk about is consistent execution. That’s doing the boring things right every time, and that’s what makes a great business.

“And then innovating in and around that so don’t lose the sight of the fundamentals that make your business great. It can be a bit boring and repetitive but that is the dedication; you need to put dedication into that to make sure your business works and survives and continues to grow,” the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of The Year Finalist said.

If you want to see the benefits of getting the “boring” things right, take a walk past any Boojum restaurant at lunchtime and see the queues out the door.

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