Dee and Darren Buckley have a story that’s not dissimilar to ours! Finding their inspiration while travelling around the world, they returned home with a dream, a business idea to get Dublin eating healthier and bucketloads of passion. We sat down with them for a chinwag about eating habits, setting up a business in Dublin and their fantastic juice bar and cafe in Ranelagh, Urban Health.
Having both studied in D.I.T. (Financial Management & Marketing and Hospitality Management), Darragh and Dee’s paths didn’t cross until they were on the other side of the world. Immediately hitting it off and sharing a passion for good nutrition and fitness, two years later they returned to Dublin arm-in-arm and are now partners in life as well as business.
So guys, you’re newly-married and juggling a new business at the same time, how do you manage the two?
“I can be a little stressful at times. But the secret is to not take things too seriously.” They explain: “We worked together in a previous shop that we ran, so we knew each other’s pet hates and likes. Sometimes there can be a tug of war with different ideas like marketing or menu items, but we’re fortunate that we typically agree on 99% of everything.”
As two guys from Clontarf, we know that the city centre isn’t necessarily where all the action is, but we were interested to hear why the couple chose Ranelagh
“We live in Ranelagh, and absolutely love the village. It has everything, gyms, bars, restaurants, but what it didn’t have was a juice bar or health food deli. The city centre would be great, and we definitely think our formula would work on Baggot Street/Dawson Street, but at the moment we have loads more plans to roll out in Urban Health Ranelagh so that will keep us busy for the next few years at least.”
What do you offer that’s different to the rest and what are you most proud of?
“Our salads and juices are completely unique. With our salad bar, we prep everything from scratch while 90% of others would buy in pre-prepped veg. We prefer to stand over the freshness and quality of our salads. We also offer unique options like grated sweet potato with lime, avocado with mixed beans, red quinoa with strawberries, kale with red onion and chickpeas, smoked sesame and almond tofu plus heaps more.
“Our salad bar is probably what we’re most proud of, we constantly get great feedback from people who have dragged their friends in to show them, and then they keep coming back. We’re also getting a lot more calls from local offices to provide them with platters of healthy wraps and juices.”
Sounds great! How has your interest and experience in sport, fitness and nutrition influenced your products and business?
“It’s had a massive impact. We are both highly particular about the quality and source of our products. Especially meats – all our chicken, salmon and turkey are 100% organic and Irish. I think after all the horse meat scandal and McDonalds issues over the last few years people are keen to know where their meat really comes from, and rightfully so. Sports science and sports nutrition is still a very young field as there’s constantly new studies determining the benefits of different foods for different sports. We try to ensure we source the very best, fruit, vegetables, meats and supplements, because ultimately we want our shop to attract people like us who demand high quality products.”
What do busy customers on-the-move tend to go for at Urban Health?
“Our pre-made salad boxes, wraps and bottled juices absolutely fly out of the fridge. In the morning people grab them on the way to work and in the evening a lot of gym members grab them after their workouts. Our homemade protein balls are a massive hit too. There are a great low carb snack to take in the evening.”
[We like the sound of their Strazler Dazler smoothie, below, with orange, coconut, banana and strawberry]
Looking good and feeling great from the inside out – now what about the environment? Running a café must take a toll?
“The environment is hugely important. There is so much more awareness now via social media on environmental disaster and on the flipside exciting new environmental combat projects. We do whatever we can to ensure the carbon footprint of Urban Health is completely minimal: we use paper bags always, paper salad boxes, never plastic. Unfortunately it’s impossible to avoid plastic altogether, but we try to ensure that we use small amounts. We also worked closely with an excellent local waste company, The City Bin Company, to ensure all our waste is collected and recycled in the appropriate way.”
Your Instagram is equal parts inspiring and drool inducing, so we wanted to know how important is blogging and social media to the business?
“Our Instagram is massively important. Every time we post something we can see results immediately with traction to our website while new people are always coming into our shop asking about the pictures they saw online. Social media really has turned direct marketing into a whole new business platform.”
Naturally when chatting about health food and ‘trends’, talk turns to spiralizing, supplements and bone broth – which they predict is going to make its way to Irish shores in a big way before the beginning of next year – but what’s next for healthy eating in Ireland?
“There are so many really great simple healthy eating products that have been affordable, and in ample supply, such as apple cider vinegar and wheatgrass, but it seems most people want to be the first to try out whatever the US celebs are doing and sometimes they forget there’s in so many natural supplements in Irish health food shops.”
And of course, our calling card – as we ask everyone on our blog – one fruit and one vegetable to live on alone for the rest of your life:
Darragh: Banana. Broccoli.
Dee: Apple. Tomato (okay, that’s technically two fruits, but we’ll let her away!)