We caught up with Gerald Arbuckle, co-founder of Foam., to chat about new beginnings and getting time back to focus on what you love.
Creating a successful lifestyle business
Foam. is a café located in the coastal town of Bundoran, County Donegal, originally started by Gerald Arbuckle, Adam Cross and Noah Lane. All avid surfers and passionate about the local community and landscape, the three friends decided to start a business of their own in 2019, when a space became available next to the surf school they were working at.
Like many small business owners, they took a leap of faith. With little to no experience in the coffee industry, they started from scratch by learning on the job. Though their focus was initially to serve good quality food and coffee, their goal was to go beyond that as they set out to create a space that would fit in and contribute to the local surf community.
“Nobody really had experience but we just went for it. We wanted to create a bit of a brand and a community, and even set up a space that would allow for various concerts and events. Customers really buy into the lifestyle and surf vibe more than just the coffee.”
Improving business operations with Square
As the café grew in popularity, so did the owners responsibilities, becoming busier with daily admin and operational tasks. When the pandemic in March 2021 forced them to temporarily close up shop, this created an opportunity for them to take a step back and reflect on how far they’d come, what needed to improve and what they wanted to do next with Foam.
An immediate area of improvement for Gerald was the till system. “It really needed an upgrade, it was essentially a giant calculator that made my life hell,” laughed Gerald. “We did some research and decided to give Square a try”. Since then, they haven’t looked back.
“Square has helped us speed up our ordering process. We’re probably twice as fast as we used to be, we have good insight into what we were selling, and even refunding is now easy. I was really surprised by all the things we could do with it, it’s amazing to have everything in one place, the staff love it.”
Taking time back to focus on what you love
Beyond operations, the team also had new projects and creative ideas they wanted to dedicate more time to during this short respite from work at the café. This is when the #WastetoWaves initiative came to life.
“We were always aware of the waste we accumulated, and had so many milk cartons we wanted to use up. We came up with the idea of a hand plane and worked with our partner, Others, to create them. It was a project that we were really excited about, and could not have happened if we’d stayed open.”
The café has now been reopened since May, and the team at Foam. are thrilled to be back serving speciality coffee and organic, seasonal food for takeaway. Building off of the momentum they built during their break, and now using Square to streamline their operations, the three friends are looking at the future, and thinking of ways to continue growing their business.
“The time we save using Square helps free us up to do what we are interested in and what we had set out to do in the first place. Our next step is to grow our overall brand.”
Looking forward, Gerald, Adam and Noah are excited to continue expanding their business online and developing their product range further, with surfboard fins coming very soon.