Tapas Startup has social media covered, Business Plus Magazine, Sept 14

The Camden Street and Wexford Street thoroughfare in Dublin is a busy cluster for restaurants and competition is intense. Las Tapas de Lola, which commenced trading in April 2013, has quickly established a good reputation and with the help of an active social media presence looks set to stay the course.

The restaurant is co-owned by Vanessa Murphy and Barcelona native Anna Cabrera. Anna has been living in Dublin for the past 13 years and previously worked in the hotel sector. Vanessa worked in marketing and business development for Arnotts and Davy amongst others, before the two life partners decided to become business partners too.

Tapas de Lola is located in a former butcher’s premises on Wexford St and Vanessa says that kitting it out as a restaurant was a lengthy process. “We went through an arduous two-and-a-half years of planning for a change of use from retail to restaurant. We were fortunate to have a landlord who wanted it just as much as we did, and it was worth the wait in the end.”

Funding the startup was initially tricky. “We spoke to the banks but restaurants were on their blacklist of risky ventures. We were very lucky to find a private investor who was willing to take a punt on us,” she explains.

Restaurants and their dishes lend themselves to image-laden social media channels and the duo have used Facebook and Twitter to build up a vocal community of loyal diners. They also take the time to monitor and respond to every TripAdvisor review. “Before we even opened, we set up our Facebook page and used it as a tool to bring interested friends along with us during the whole development process,” Vanessa recalls.

“What’s great with social media is the opportunity to interact directly with your customers. We’ve always chosen to organically grow our following, as it’s more important to us to have people who are interested and interacting with us rather than have thousands who only engage with us for a competition. What’s encouraging is the number of people who dine with us after we post images of our specials online. You can’t buy that kind of free promotion.”