Restaurant Profile September 2017: Café Riva, Larne
John Armstrong, owner of Italian restaurant Café Riva, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN?
Jan 2014. My wife Angela had wanted to open a coffee shop and I am an amateur chef. This opportunity came along and, even though it was much more than a coffee shop, we decided to give it a chance. The rest is history.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE
We can comfortably seat 50 people in the restaurant. We also have a soft seating area for coffee. We have an outdoor area for dog lovers and people who enjoy a coffee alfresco in the Irish sunshine.
WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR?
Good food in an informal setting at a price you can afford every day. Comfortable and family friendly.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU AND WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
Breakfast menu is Irish. The lunch and dinner menu are mostly Italian but there is a choice of popular local dishes. The inspiration is to be able to offer authentic Italian and local food that is freshly prepared from natural ingredients while supporting local producers.
DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN?
We have our standard menus but we have a large specials’ board where we can be more creative and inventive. We like to promote local produce so recently we had a water buffalo ribeye (bred in Magherafelt). We also have a number of fish dishes available every week.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE AND DRIVE YOUR MENU?
Our menu is driven by what is in season and keeping up with industry trends and new ingredients. We like to visit local food shows to keep abreast of new ideas. Our customers are also a good source of inspiration and are always keen to try out a new dish.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
We source as much as possible locally.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Our customers range from children to pensioners. We have quite a few younger customers who love squid and pasta which is very encouraging. We also cater for older and more traditional palates.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE?
I know I sound like everyone else in the industry, but VAT is destroying the hospitality industry. It is difficult to keep prices competitive as an independent trader.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS?
We have an extensive gluten-free menu and, to cater for all appetites, our dishes are available in small and large portion sizes. Everything is homemade and fresh to order.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RESTAURANT DEVELOPING THIS YEAR?
We are teaming up with a local enterprise to offer something a bit different for locals and tourists alike. We have plans to roast our own coffee and intend to use this to tap in to the local tourist trade on the Antrim coast.
Port of Larne Business Park,
Redlands Road, Larne
Tel: 028 28 279157
Facebook: Cafe Riva
Mon: 9:30am to 6:30pm
Tue-Thur: 9:30am to 8:30pm
Fri-Sat: 9:30am to 9:30pm
Sun: 11:30am to 7:30pm
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