Iconic Cork cafe closing after 21 years in business

Idaho Café on Caroline’s Street was first opened by Richard Jacob and his wife Mairead, co-owner and chef, exactly 21 years ago
Iconic Cork cafe closing after 21 years in business

Cork's Idaho Cafe, nestled on the corner of Caroline Street and Maylor Street, will reopen under new ownership after 21 years in business. Picture: Larry Cummins

One of Cork’s most popular cafes is to close but loyal customers have been assured that it is being taken over by another local chef who will preserve its much-loved ethos.

Idaho Café on Caroline’s Street was first opened by Richard Jacob and his wife Mairead, co-owner and chef, exactly 21 years ago.

Mr Jacob said that they “have had a ball” over that time and have seen huge and positive changes in Cork but it was time to move on.

“What I’ll miss most is the coffee! And the smiling people coming through the doors. Hearing the belly laughs and the roaring laughter,” he said.

“The customers have become our friends. We spent this evening calling some of them to let them know that we’re moving on.

“We’ve watched children come in in their school uniforms and they’re now working for Ernst and Young and are still customers.

“We are eternally grateful to everyone who spent time here.” 

But all is not lost for fans of Idaho because Corkman and chef, Dermot O’Sullivan is reopening it as a new venture called Greenwich on Tuesday and will retain the ethos and many of Idaho’s suppliers.

“It seemed like the right time to move on and let someone younger take over,” Mr Jacob said.

“We’re still loving what we do and we want to leave when we still feel that way.

“Over the last two years, we’ve brought the café back to what it was when we first opened. Mairead delivered very short, sharp menus and everyone put so much effort in to make it a happy place to come to.

“It’s been an amazing 21 years.” 

Current owners Richard (above) and Mairéad Jacob have said they feel now is the "perfect time to bow deeply and leave the stage".
Current owners Richard (above) and Mairéad Jacob have said they feel now is the "perfect time to bow deeply and leave the stage".

Over those years he has seen huge changes in the city and major improvements.

The recent pedestrianisation of many streets and improved planting in the city are some of the biggest improvements he’s noticed. But there has also been a huge and positive change in people’s attitudes with a surge of interest and engagement from people who now want to improve and shape their city.

“Many people are thinking about the future of Cork now. They’re talking about how they see and imagine it developing, they really care about the development of their city now. That’s a big difference.” 

He said that their immediate plans are to take some time off, but in the future, they may open a food business again.

“We have nothing planned but maybe something sustainable and slow-paced, in the countryside, farm-based.

“But we’re definitely taking a break first! Mairead has been the chef and the real powerhouse behind Idaho. She’s been cheffing all her life and she is going to take a year out, with her glass out, gardening and not cheffing!”

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