Market Sounding for Cafe at Donabate Portrane Community Centre

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Donabate & Portrane Community & Leisure Centre

Market Sounding Exercise – Notice of Interest – Seeking an Independent Social Enterprise to Run a Café in a Community & Leisure Centre

Donabate & Portrane Community & Leisure Centre (DPCC) is conducting a market sounding exercise in order to seek the level of interest and engagement from suitable operators for an existing café facility in a vacant unit within a large community leisure centre in Donabate, North County Dublin. DPCC is seeking an independent operator to run a café that will provide an accessible and inclusive facility welcoming to all members of surrounding communities. The facility is to be provided at a heavily subsidised rent to the selected Café Operator.

At this early stage, DPCC will accept expressions of interest from social enterprises only, as permitted for this type of initiative under public procurement rules. However, it may be determined that a request for tender open to all types of economic operator may be published arising from this process, with social clauses to be included in the terms of any contract offered.

This is a voluntary notice which is not governed by public procurement law or guidelines. DPCC reserves the right not to follow up on this notice in any way and/or to change its requirements in any way.

The objective of this market sounding exercise is to get a clear understanding of the level of interest in the proposed café as a social enterprise providing accessible and inclusive space and service for surrounding communities, and to obtain feedback on the proposition set out in this document

Background & Context

Donabate & Portrane Community & Leisure Centre (DPCC) opened in 2002 and is a registered charity supported by Fingal County Council (FCC), Pobal and Leader, and governed by a voluntary board of management. The Centre is located in the heart of Donabate along the main road to Portrane, just five minutes’ drive from the M1 and fifteen minutes from Dublin Airport. Our mission is to work with communities, groups and individuals to provide high quality sports and leisure facilities and activities which are accessible and available to people of all ages and abilities.

DPCC is located within its own grounds with ample car parking facilities and is adjacent to three schools (Secondary, Educate Together, Gaelscoil), St. Michael’s House, Sophia Housing, and the local Credit Union. The new National Forensic Mental Health Service Hospital is a short distance away and we are within easy walking distance of a number of housing developments. The current population of the Donabate & Portrane peninsula is around 10.5k and significant growth is planned with the recent announcement by FCC to build a further 1,200 homes in the area.

In addition to the café, DPCC currently houses a gym and wellness area, a sports hall, an FCC public library, a pre-school and Montessori, meeting rooms and a number of community groups. The Centre employs a full-time manager and sixteen staff. DPCC opening hours are 6.00am to 10.00pm Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm Tuesday/Thursday, 9.30am to 5.00pm on Saturday, 9.30am to 2.00pm on Sunday. There is no requirement for the café to remain open for the duration of the Centre’s opening hours.

A café has been operated on site by commercial operators since 2007 and has recently become vacant. The café unit has a prime location at the front of the Centre and offers direct public access from outside as well as from within the Centre. It includes a fully equipped commercial kitchen, counter fittings with fridge, space for 24-30 covers inside and a paved area to the front for optional outdoor dining. The selected operator will be required to provide indoor and outdoor café furniture, crockery/cutlery and pots/pans/kitchen utensils.

Preferred Selection Criteria

Social enterprises expressing an interest should satisfy themselves that they can (or consortium can) meet the following criteria:

  • Be a bona fide social enterprise.
  • Be able to demonstrate at least two years trading in the same sector in another location & make available annual turnover figures.
  • Evidence of awareness and experience of community engagement, including how to identify and respond to the needs of marginalised and hard to reach groups within the community.
  • Business model includes a focus on sustainable environmental practices.


Following a successful tendering process, the Board have set a target timeframe for the café to be fully operational by 6th September 2021. The level of operation will be influenced by COVID-19 restrictions in place at that time.

Project Objectives:

The primary objectives of seeking a social enterprise to operate a café in DPCC are:

  • to operate as an independent social enterprise and continue to work in line with your existing social mission and ethos;
  • to create an inclusive and welcoming space and services for all groups and individuals in the community, to be responsive to a range of community needs, and to work with the DPCC manager and board of management to identify and facilitate specific groups within the community in using the café;
  • to offer a variety of fresh wholesome food to meet a range of dietary requirements;
  • to cover all other business related expenses such as rates, insurance, utility expenses and waste management;
  • to pay at least minimum wage, preferably living wage, to employees;
  • to ensure the business continually meets all Employment Law, as well as Health & Safety, Food Hygiene and Environmental Health requirements
  • to agree to a communication strategy with the DPCC Manager as a key point of contact.

Objectives for Market Sounding Exercise:

  • Test that there is a sufficient level of interest in this proposition and sufficient capacity among social enterprises to meet the primary objectives in order to proceed to the Reserved Contract tender stage.

Initial Technical Specification for discussion:

  • Financial capacity to cover the running of the business.
  • Process for engaging local communities and identifying the needs of a variety of individuals and groups, including those who are hard to reach, marginalised or vulnerable with a view to providing them with a welcoming and accessible café facility.

Format for Market Sounding Exercise

DPCC intend to hold discussions with a selection of social enterprises through on-site meetings where interested parties will be given the opportunity to view the café space and offer their proposed plan for developing and operating the café. On-site meetings will be held in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions. These on-site visits will take place during week beginning Monday 17th May 2021.

If you are interested in putting your name forward for selection, please e-mail the following details to Kathleen McCann (DPCC Vice-Chair) at before close of business on Friday 7th May 2021.

  • Social enterprise name and address.
  • Legal Structure of organisation (Company limited by guarantee (CLG), Designated Activity Company (DAC), social enterprise)
  • Contact name, e-mail address and phone number.
  • Names and roles of proposed attendees

Please note that all social enterprises (whether selected to present or not) will have an opportunity to tender via e-tenders website when DPCC decides to go to tender for an independent operator for its café space.

General Info

Date Entered/Updated
21st Apr, 2021
North County Dublin
Expiry Date
7th May, 2021