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Chef Luis Martin-The Old Couch Café
Chef Luis Martin-The Old Couch Café

Chef Luis Martin-The Old Couch Café

I bought the Old Couch Café in April 2023, after the previous owners announced the closing. I used to be a customer of the old place and I thought I could bring something different and unique to Waterford, while using the resources from the existing business. We do an 11-course menu with wine pairing, based on our Spanish Heritage and knowledge gained from working in Michelin-starred restaurants.

The freedom, to cook what I want how I want. Then serving this to customers while explaining the dish. My aim is to bring the chef ‘out-of-the-kitchen’ and instead face the costumers. I love the interaction with our diners.

The increase of the Hospitality & Tourism VAT, and the high costs of energy bills… is damaging the hospitality industry a lot.

My aim is to bring the chef ‘out-of-the-kitchen’ and instead face the costumers.

Luis Martin
egg yolk ravioli, black truffle

My days are long days- I start early at 11am or 12, put the deliveries away, make the prepping list for the day, check bookings and reply to emails. Then, I start prepping the food, get ready for the service, do the dinner service, then clean and close. I’m busy probably about 10 to 12 hours a day, but the environment is great to work in.

The fact that I’m creating a place in Waterford that is unique; where we endeavour to present a fine-dining experience; based on our background. Plus, we run a sustainable restaurant where we work hand-in-hand with local producers and seasonal products.

cod, fermented leeks & mussels

No, the funding to buy the business was through family help and savings. I didn’t get any support from the Local Enterprise Office or any bank.

At the moment, our main focus is on the restaurant. The only other project we intend doing is to rebrand the restaurant by April this year. We will relaunch under a new name- Mara (meaning sea or ocean in Irish) but the offering won’t change, we will still be a fine-dining option in Waterford.

We will relaunch by April this year…under a new name, Mara (meaning sea or ocean in Irish) but the offering won’t change, we will still be a fine-dining option in Waterford.

Luis Martin

Well, the only thing we do is work ahead of time! We have a good seasonal menu with a lot of veggies so it’s easy to prep the vegetarian menu. Then we prep in big batches at the start of the week. So, there’s not much other advice I can give to be honest! Each chef is different, and we have different ways of working too.

Oh yes, Instagram and Facebook are working if you work at it. I helped a local charity Helping Hands Waterford during the Christmas season and the post we did to support them reached 167K people! We have a website as well but nowadays Instagram and Facebook are our biggest assets to reach out to our customers and followers on.

Through stories, reels, and posts on our social media channels.  I love Instagram because we can show a side of ourselves that they can’t see during service, we are as human as the rest and we love to mess and have the craic* while we work, even when we’re out of the restaurant.

My advice is to set aside the ego…be patient and trust the process, nothing was built overnight!

Luis Martin

Be patient and trust the process, nothing was built overnight! And most important, don’t grow a big ego! If things go right, we tend to take the credit for them and when they go wrong, we tend to blame others. My advice is to set aside the ego and accept things as they come. This will help you to not lose your head in the process. Opening a restaurant- it’s not a 3-day adventure it’s a long-term adventure so you need to be patient and if you do the right things the things will fall into place.

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Check out the three options of Dining Experience on THE OLD COUCH CAFÉ website

FOLLOW Old Couch Café on social: Instagram & Facebook

All photographs by Lorenzo Tonti Photography

PLEASE lend your help or support to HELPING HANDS WATERFORD Charity (they’ll definitely appreciate it!)

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*Craic is an Irish word for fun, or enjoyment. It’s a jovial feeling experienced while in the presence of entertaining company or via entertaining or comedic conversation with friends.

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Faces of Food Interview