Vasile Sofenet and his wife, Marina, opened Marina’s takeaway in Loughrea, Galway in 2013. They make their own pizza dough and do classic pasta dishes, like Carbonara and Arrabiata. He loves Loughrea and is not worried about competition but he thinks the government should go easy on small businesses in their first years of opening.
What is your name? Vasile Sofenet
What is the name of your business or outlet? Marina’s
When did you open up there? In 2013. We took over an existing takeaway but we changed the name – Marina’s is named for my wife. And we did a total refurbishment and renovation so the place looks very new.
Were you coming from a fast food background? Yes, I worked in fast food in Italy. I came to Ireland in 2007 and was working in a takeaway in Tallaght. Then this premises came up and I moved to Galway!
How is it going? Now, it’s going well. We had a lot of work to do making the place look good and when we opened there was a recession, but now I’m very happy with how things are going.
What kind of services do you offer customers? We open 4 pm till midnight every day and we do deliveries. We have a full menu with an emphasis on Italian food – so pizza and pasta as well as burgers, fish and other takeaway specials.
What pastas do you do? All the classics – Carbonara, Arrabiata – and all home-made.
What’s your bestselling item (besides chips?) The pizzas and the Marina, which is a 7oz burger
What fish do you serve? Fresh fillet of cod from a local supplier
How do you test new menu items? I test them myself first and then I get two or three customers to give their opinion.
How many staff do you employ? 2 at the moment, and myself and Marina. My daughters sometimes help out at weekends.
What, in your opinion, makes your shop unique to your customers? The food is freshly cooked to order, and a lot of it is home-made – for example, I make the pizza dough myself
What do you most like about the job? I love my customers. They are family to me.
Do you find much difference between busy times and slow times during the week? Is there a big difference between seasons? It’s up and down – during the week and during the year. In general, yes, weekends would be busier and good weather brings people out.
What’s the biggest challenge facing you in business at the moment? Too much tax from the government
What is competition like in the area? There is competition but I don’t notice it. The only competition I have is to myself!
Is there anything the government could be doing to make your life easier? They should give more help for small businesses, especially when they’re starting out. They should go easy on us for the first two or three years, helping us to get a foothold.
If you could invite someone famous to dinner who would it be? The President, Michael D. Higgins. He’s from Galway too!
How do you advertise new menu items? I leaflet about twice a year, the whole area. And I have a Facebook page
What do you look for from suppliers? The important thing is that they should be nice people who you get on with, and who are very helpful. I’m very happy with my suppliers.