Fortunately, coffee shops and cafes have started to pop up around Cork city and county over the past few years. Living in Cork, Ireland has many opportunities to express your creativity and to connect with your community. One particular spot that hides away on the River Lee is the BUS STOP. Ian, opened his own cafe in June of 2019. Initially, he was working for O’Connell’s chocolates in markets around County Cork. He enjoyed the art of making hot chocolates, coffees, and interacting with customers. Ian’s career background starts with him doing variety of jobs. One particular trade that he stuck with for a few years was painting. When he lived in Australia, he got a job painting houses and a variety of other projects. After living in Australia, he continued on with the painting trade, here in Cork, Ireland. However, painting didn’t exactly resonate with him. He wanted a bit more interaction with people; and, he wanted to add a bit more colour to his life, should one say. Which, led to him working in the farmers markets. In the markets, he met a variety of people ranging from other food and beverage vendors to local artists. Here he met his partner: Layla, and later his friend John. Layla, does a lot of the behind the scenes odds and ends that need to be done. John does a lot of the artistic painting and drawing in the shop. When Ian needs a day off or time to relax, John would come in and cover him for a few hours pre-covid. Now, at the moment, Ian is in the shop Monday to Friday, from 7am till 4pm, depending on the day. A few things about BUS STOP that make the cafe unique and special. Ian, makes sure to support local by buying his chocolate from his former employer: O’Connell’s Chocolate. He has local art hanging on the walls; and, he sells locally made jam from Yummie Food Company. The cafe is super easy to access. The door and area in the shop is super easy to navigate for those needing a bit of extra space. You can stand out by the River Lee and enjoy the sounds of the seagulls or watch the hustle and bustle of the city. Unfortunately, there is no toilet or WIFI. However, when you drop in you don’t feel the need for WIFI, Ian’s personality and free flowing conversation makes up for any need of wifi or Internet. Ian, himself is a character. We have gotten to know one another over the past 2 years let’s say. As friends do, there is a friendly banter that grows organically. We are both odd and stay true to who we are as individuals. You can come in and chat about pretty much anything and walk away feeling lighter and inspired. As a good cafe does, conversation and coffee flows. Ian and his crew, make sure that people feel like they are part of the larger community. Covid 19 has forced a lot of businesses to have to adapt and change. Since, the pubs have closed, as Ian has said, “cafes have become the new pub.” The people of Cork are feeling the weight of the lockdown. Pubs used to be the spot where we would chat about our challenges and successes. Now, the cafe has become that spot where people drop in and chat about whatever is weighing on his/er mind. People drop in and chat about whatever is on his/er mind. Now a days, we hear about the work people are doing at home, where people have walked, and what they have seen while on their walk. Many of the local business owners will drop by and talk about their families, games, or about how the government is handling the situation. He also hears about the struggle young people are encountering. He hears about how they want to meet their friends or too simply to go somewhere outside of Cork like the beach to go for a swim or to simply enjoy the crisp ocean air on your face. Then there is the concern about exams, applications, and doing their courses. One of the key take aways about this conversation, was the art of being a good listener. Ian emphasized the importance of creating that safe space for conversation to flow. When asked about what makes Cork unique, Ian struggled with giving a specific answer. For those new to Cork, you can feel and see that Cork city is different and a bit unstructured. Unlike, other cities around the world, Cork city grew organically. The city itself is based on an island. The hillsides and surrounding area developed as the centre of the city developed. The centre was a trading area. Ships would come into the harbour and load up with goods. On the Northside, the butter museum is reminder of the butter trade that Ireland has with Europe and the rest of the world. Ireland is known for its butter and milk trade in Europe. At one time, Ireland was the main exporter of butter. When you walk the city streets, you will get a feel for how these streets were at one time were for just a horse and buggy. As with anything that grows organically, you have a certain attachment to a place. The people of Cork are proud to be from Cork. Often, like Ian, they don’t know exactly what it is that makes Cork special; however, the people and the community make Cork city, Cork. You will often hear music playing on side streets. Artists and other creatives are continually contributing to the artwork and development of making the city look beautiful. Of course, the city isn’t just about the artists and creatives. Cork has a very strong and thriving business culture. A business culture that has been the backbone of this city since Cork was first established. Essentially the people, of Cork, just accept you for who you are. The banter is simply banter and people understand. The BUS STOP is just one of those places where the banter is alive and well. Where you can, come in and be yourself.