We caught up with Maeve O'Malley, the wiz behind your favourite cheese toasty and hot sauce.
What does it take to stand out in the food and beverage industry? What is the secret sauce that makes a business successful?
Maeve started her journey studying Biochemistry. Always having had an intense love for food, she worked in cafes all throughout college, opening her own little café in her hometown of Connemara once she graduated.
Finding her calling in the food and beverage industry, she went back to college, completing the Total Immersion Chefs programme in DIT. Going on to work as a chef she swiftly realised that it wasn’t all she thought it would be, as it didn’t provide the same freedom she had when running her own business.
Pivoting yet again, she moved to Coca Cola where she worked in commercialisation, finding security and great career prospects. However she found that the corporate world didn’t suit her and yearned to return to the food and beverage industry.
Maeve had made cheese toasties when she worked as a chef and found that those around her loved them. She made her toasties the way she liked to eat them, not compromising on ingredients or quality, thus creating one of the first gourmet cheese toasties in Dublin. Recognising this gap in the market, her journey towards Meltdown and Winedown began.
First as a pop up, then taking over the Button Factory Kitchen, and finally securing her own premise on Leeson street, opening Meltdown’s first storefront, Meltdown was officially born in December 2019. Meltdown’s second location was then opened in 2020 introducing the new restaurant concept of Winedown simultaneously.
Meltdown by day and Winedown by night located on Montague street, Maeve finally achieved her dream, settling into the new location and moulding Winedown into everything that she would like to see in a restaurant. Maeve’s touch can undoubtedly be seen in every single corner of the business, from the suppliers that she uses, the staff that she employs, to the menu and dishes she creates. Making this venue a truly unique place that switches effortlessly between casual toasties, to upscale dining.
During our interview, I asked Maeve for some key pieces of advice she would give to someone opening their own business and how she has created her own success.
“Keep on moving forward and looking ahead”
She explained that one of the most important qualities is the ability to constantly look ahead and keep on moving forward. If something isn’t working do not get out and then try to get back in, always try to push on and work through your hardships. By constantly moving forward and looking 3 to 4 months ahead, she has managed to keep herself working relentlessly towards her goals.
“Make your life easier where you can and ask for help when you need it.”
Embracing her individuality and pushing for a better and easier work environment for her staff, Maeve was an early adopter of UnifyOrdering. She was frustrated with the way daily orders were done, comparing the process to rocket science. She actively sought out a piece of technology that solved this problem, and came across UnifyOrdering.
One of the main ways that Meltdown uses UnifyOrdering is to promote employee autonomy and quick incorporation into the team. By giving a new team member access to UnifyOrdering, they are able to easily place orders on their own, without the supervision of a manager, giving them the tools to take charge of their role.
“It is very important to support our local suppliers and communities.”
Sourcing the best produce and finding the right supplier is key. Using local suppliers as much as possible is an important piece of Meltdown’s identity. Maeve has carefully selected and sought out fantastic local Irish producers that she uses daily. Further leaning into seasonality and localism in Winedown. The restaurant showcases the best of Irish produce in tapas style dishes, driven by Maeve's idea of ‘sitting down for a glass of wine and trying everything’.
Perhaps one of the greatest qualities on showcase during our interview was that of kindness, drive and the will to help others succeed. Through the struggle that Maeve encountered whilst starting off in the industry, emerged a support system aimed at providing a safe space for young entrepreneurs. A place where information is readily shared and where comradery prevails.
“I found when I first opened, was one of the loneliest times of my life”
The Coffee Gals, was created by Maeve when she needed help from her fellow man, or woman in this case. This is a unique, all female support group, creating a safe space where young female entrepreneurs share ideas and help each other regardless of status, achievement and success within the industry.
What started out as an idea between two friends, has now grown into a support system for young female entrepreneurs within Dublin city.
We are excited to catch up with some more of these lovely ladies and get their stories out there.
What better way to emerge out of the hardship of the last months, than with stories of incredible women kicking ass and taking names.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Meltdowns’ new sauces: Garlic Stuff, Cajun Stuff and of course Hot Stuff. We can’t wait to see where Maeve will go in the future and can't wait to wind down at Winedown.