Why Athlone Towncentre’s Harvest Homemade is so Homemade
At 4am, when most of us are tucked up in bed, Ola turns on the lights in her dedicated pastry kitchen. Ola’s love for baking is palpable as she powers on the ovens to begin a new day. For the past few weeks, there has been added pep in her step. In mid-February, Athlone Towncentre’s Harvest Café became “Harvest Homemade”.
When I asked Ola what was the reason for the name change, she explained, “we wanted to remind everyone that everything here is actually homemade. We are so proud of what we produce here. Every day you’ll be welcomed by the fresh, sweet smell of our tasty baked goods as soon as you walk through the doors of Athlone Towncentre.”
As I awkwardly hover around Ola’s fluent movement though her kitchen, she patiently attends to the intricate process of kneading and measuring the buttery pastry for her latest creations, “4am Cruffins”. A perfect harmony of a croissant and muffin, with indulgent fillings such as rich chocolate ganache or velvety coffee and butterscotch cream.
Open for 12 years now, Harvest has established itself as a leading outlet in Athlone Towncentre. Its pastry, coffee, deli and hot food offering has made it one of Athlone’s busiest foodie outlets. If you haven’t visited the new Harvest Homemade, then you gotta pop in for a taste of their new menu.
You won’t recognise it, it has enjoyed a transformational refurbishment bringing a bright, airy and rustic new kitchen look. The menu has also got a touch of something extra special including Coffee S’mores, tantalising Tie-Dye Cookies and sweet & salty Popcorn & Chocolate Croissants.
Once Ola has finished meticulously displaying the baked goods counter, she is served a well-deserved Espresso from the new barista machine! The calm before the doors open is her favourite time of the day when she casts an eye over the fruits of her work.
When I ask her passion for baking came from, she replied “I accidently came across this career and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved watching my Granny baking when I was young, I found it fascinating. I had actually planned to study Film and Cultural Studies in Poland but decided to come to Ireland first to work for a few months. I got a job in a supermarket bakery and after two days I just knew it was what I wanted to do – it brought me straight back to watching my Granny when I was a kid. Soon after, I went to AIT to study Culinary Arts, specialising in the art of Pastry. I’ve never looked back, after I graduated, I started to work in the Sheraton and the rest is history!”
On speaking with some of the other members of the team including Chef Eoin, Irina, Louise and Jamie, there is a tangible sense of pride in their new Harvest Homemade. To end my visit, I speak with Managing Director, Garrett McGuinness. The smile on his face says it all – “For sure, I am thrilled with our new Harvest Homemade. The investment in the refurbishment has made such a difference. Most importantly, I am extremely proud of the team who have worked so hard to deliver what you are looking at today”.