THE recession has failed to dampen our appetite for good food, with the number of food businesses soaring.
Figures from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) show that, despite the downturn, there's been a 5pc increase in the number of food businesses established since 2008.
There are now 2,000 more food businesses than there were at the height of the boom, with some 46,000 registered in all, ranging from cafes and restaurants to processors, delis, manufacturers and wholesalers.
And the FSAI said it is receiving dozens of new queries every week from those interested in setting up with almost 1,300 queries in the last year -- most of which come from wannabe entrepreneurs who want to set up in their own home.
Evelyn von Beeck is among those who wanted to be her own boss and run a cafe -- a goal she achieved when she opened up Cafe de la Gare in Killiney last year.
From the Netherlands originally, she's been living in Ireland for four years, but while she worked in a call-centre here initially she was always keeping her eye open for a restaurant or cafe opportunity.
While she initially sought somewhere in Dublin city centre, she found the costs and limited number of premises off-putting, but eventually spotted a likely place at Killiney Dart Station.
Though there was plenty of red tape to get through to set it up, she now serves up her own homemade cakes, cappuccinos and light lunches to commuters, tourists and a host of regulars.
She said that though the hours were very long, and she worked seven days a week, she loved being her own boss and the interaction with customers.
"It's a fantastic area and I have so many regulars and tourists coming in that it's very nice how you get to know people," she said.
"But you do have to constantly think about what people want and how you can get more business, so I gave myself two years for it to be making a profit and really working out," she said.
Baking her own cakes and making fresh sandwiches is a key part of her offering as that was what brought people back rather than the same prepackaged goods you could get everywhere. Evelyn has also temporarily expanded for Christmas -- opening up a pop-up shop in Busarus to sell specialty Dutch chocolate and biscuits which she imports from the Netherlands.
The FSAI is running a special seminar next month for those interested in starting a food business, as chief executive Alan Reilly noted there was huge interest with over 15,000 unique visitors to their website.
"Our aim is to reduce the barriers faced by food businesses seeking to enter the arena and make it easier to comply with all the various requirements and food regulations," he said.
Meanwhile, a third of convenience stores have seen a decrease in turnover in the last six months, according to a survey of 228 shops carried out by 'Shelflife' magazine.
A quarter said reduced footfall and lower customer spending were the main factors.