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Pimento’s Diane delighted with cafe awards victory

June 27th, 2017 | by LCN Editor
Pimento’s Diane delighted with cafe awards victory
Venue Spotlight
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Diane Gardiner has taken home her first award after 15 years of running her own coffee shop in the County Down village of Moira…

 

Diane Gardiner, the proprietor of Pimento Coffee Shop in Moira, has described the venue’s victory in the Café/Bistro of the Year category at this year’s LCN Gala Awards as “unbelievable”.

“I nearly had kittens,” she said after the event at the Europa hotel in Belfast on the evening of June 2. “I never thought for one moment that we would get as far as we did in the competition.”

Pimento, the business bought by Diane (47), 15 years ago, triumphed over a formidable panel of finalists to take this year’s title, including high end Belfast venues Miel et Moi and The Vestry.

Judges from independent awards assessors, Spotcheck NI, said of Pimento: “The winner of this award provides warm and welcoming service combined with a range of fresh and wholesome food. Distinctive and charming, this is a popular place for both locals and visitors.”

And speaking to LCN on the night, Diane described the win as “amazing”.

“We’ve had the coffee shop for 15 years and it’s just incredible to have achieved something like this,” she added.

Diane has enjoyed a long career in the hospitality trade. She comes originally from the Crumlin area and after completing her training at the former College of Business Studies in Belfast, she began work right away at the old Greenhall Restaurant in Ballinderry Upper. From there, she moved to Naroon House, a care home in Crumlin and then on to Lizzie Drake’s restaurant in Lisburn and the canteen at Smurfit in Lurgan before the opportunity to take over at Pimento in Moira presented itself.

The coffee shop, which is ideally located at the bottom of the village’s busy main street, had been closed for a short period before Diane took it on, with help from her bank.

“The business was already in good order and I just decided to take a gamble,” she recalls. “I didn’t really know what I was in for and I still recall my first Saturday in the business here, it was just bedlam.”

That said, Diane was actually a familiar face to many of her potential customers in Moira, having worked a short time before at Essence coffee shop in the village.

“The idea behind the new venture was simple, I just wanted my own place,” she adds. “I’d done it for everyone else at that stage and I just felt that I wanted to do it for myself. The previous owner approached me and asked me if I’d like to buy the business, so I took it on and ran it as it was.”

Over the years, Diane has invested in new equipment for Pimento and revamped the interior of the premises as necessary, but the current layout and nature of the premises limits her scope for structural improvements or expansion. She has one full-time member of staff and another part-time.

She also has an outside catering element to her business and is often to be spotted at local church and bowling club events.

“I would describe Pimento as a very homely experience,” she says. “This is a home-from-home for many of our customers, it’s all home cooking and everything here is freshly baked, practically nothing is bought in, only the essentials and we make all our own pies, quiches, salads and so on.”

Diane also revealed that winning the Café/Bistro of the Year title at the LCN Awards has done wonders for her business already:

“I have to say that since I won this award, things have really taken off,” she said. “I really think there is something to winning awards like this. To be honest, I was just so pleased to be recognised after 15 years of hard work. I am in here 24/7, I do almost everything myself and it’s nice to have someone acknowledge that.”

As for the future, Diane is very content where she is and has no big plans for expansion:

“What I am really focused on now is maintaining our standards and making sure that everyone is happy,” she says. “I think that the bigger the business is, the harder it might fall, so I am just happy with what I have here now. I want to stay focused on doing what we are doing to the same high standards that won us the LCN Award.”

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