Coffee shop proves so popular a second is on its way
By David Wood
When Ray Dowling opened Moosh coffee shop in Cheltenham during lockdown last June he must have raised a few eyebrows.
But this Irish entrepreneur must have known what he was doing because he's about to open a second venue in the town in the next couple of weeks.
Dublin-born Ray first came to Cheltenham about 20 years ago to study at the University of Gloucestershire. After 16 years working in London, he moved back to the area with his family a couple of years ago.
Speaking to Punchline editor Mark Owen, he said: "Moosh is in Charlton Kings. We are right in the village and we are a coffee shop serving coffee, cake and some savouries such as sausage rolls and things like that.
"We are primarily a grab-and-go coffee shop which has been very popular over the last year. We are looking forward to getting people through the door and seated."
Asked how much money he'd lost during lockdown, Ray, who is a photographer by trade working in property marketing, said: "We opened in June last year so for us it's not so much what we have lost, it's how much we haven't capitalised on, We don't know what the norm is really.
"Unfortunately we were due to open a lot earlier than we did. Having picked up the keys to start doing the refit of the shop, lockdown happened a week later. We were really stuffed for a few months so that was really tough.
"Once the announcement came that we were allowed to reopen at the beginning of June last year, we said 'let's go for it' because there was nowhere else in the village to get a coffee."
Ray has also opened a popular Irish section at Moosh, stocking products such as Irish tea bags, crisps, biscuits and bread.
"I initially did it for St Patrick's Day but it's gone down so well I decided to keep it," he said.
After making a promising start with his Charlton Kings coffee shop, Ray is opening a second branch of Moosh in Cheltenham High Street shortly.
"There's obviously quite a few venues and coffee shops in town but I think habits are changing and more and more coffee is being drunk," he added. "It's a really nice space and we are going to welcome people in with their laptops."
Moosh is very much in the heart of the community and is part of the TURF collaborative of hospitality venues in Cheltenham.
"TURF is growing all the time. It's such a huge diversity of offerings from coffee roasters to bars and hotels, the lot.
"There's a huge support network with like-minded people. We are all different with our views and our offerings but we have a lot in common and that really helps. You know you're not alone."
TURF recently held a large-scale auction with over 30 hospitality venues contributing prizes and Ray said it had been a "tremendous success".
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