I’m sitting in Dock Cafe on a rainy Saturday afternoon with the buzz of life and laughter all around me. Families are playing board games, soaked tourists are slowly evaporating, old friends are catching up and new friendships are being forged. Talk about a sight that’s good for the soul!
So I thought I’d grab the chance to pop a few pictures online – and first of all (and very belatedly) to post news of our Dock WEDDING! If you frequented Dock Cafe in the early days, you will never ever forget our Little Boss, Tegan, who ran the show with an iron fist (seriously, you didn’t want to mess with her) as Dock Cafe began, grew, expanded and blossomed beyond our wildest dreams.
She has now met the man of her dreams and tied the knot and so, with all our love, CONGRATULATIONS TEGAN & SIMON!
Speaking of faces from the past, we’re truly delighted to be welcoming David Gavaghan as the guest speaker of our next Sunday Night service (Sun 4th Sept at 6pm at the cafe) – David was at the helm of TQ Ltd during those crazy early days of Dock Cafe (the pic shows that awesome moment when he signed the Meanwhile Lease for Dock Cafe and the adventure began!) He’ll be sharing his vision for the future of Belfast city and I know it will be inspirational. Put it in the diary now!
One aspect of Belfast life that still takes some getting used to (for those of us who remember the grey old days) is the amount of visitors from all over the world who are now visiting the city. Dock Cafe is a hubbub of different languages, nationalities & cultures throughout the Summer months – so Clemence hit on the idea of putting up a big map where customers can all mark the place they call home. It’s only been up a week or so and we already have push-pins scattered all across the globe!
And closer to home – Dock Market is BACK baby! and showcasing the very best home-grown talent. The boundless creativity and skill of our Marketeers never ceases to amaze me – and if you check out the new ‘Dockie Directory‘, you can start to read some of the stories of the faces behind the stalls – it’s really inspiring to find out how they each realised they had a unique talent and got started with their bespoke businesses.
The Directory is sorted by name, craft, genre or Market date – awesome job gang! And don’t forget the next market on Saturday 27th August – which as you can see is another milestone in the life of The Dock. Which we’re celebrating with stormtroopers – because every birthday needs the evil Empire to make it really special.
Lazy Summer days at Dock Cafe, gotta love’em! Come rain or shine (usually rain for the last few days), the cafe has been packed with visitors, locals, tourists, neighbours, people from all over the world chilling out and meeting up in our little slice of paradise:
I love reading all the comments in the visitors book – whether from regulars (“our favourite spot for lunch”) or newcomers (“this place is amazing – I wish you were around where I live!”), their comments short-and-sweet (“lovely!”) or essay-length and effusive (“the concept is amazing, gobsmacking and stunning”!)
It’s so cool to look through all the different addresses and nationalities – and then to realise that they’ve all found a home-from home for a few hours (or as one person wrote, “nicer than home – almost”!)
And the community at Dock Cafe doesn’t just come from far afield – some of them live within a few metres! Last week we hosted a barbecue for the ARC residents and had an absolute blast chilling out with the folks who live just upstairs (didn’t get many photos – too busy flipping burgers!):
And then there’s a whole other community of people who really, really belong to the Dock: our amazing team of volunteers. They all got together to mark the start of the Rio Olympics with Samba drummers, Brazilian food (yum), fancy dress (all AMAZING but especially loved the three Carl Framptons and Stevo’s 118 impression), the chance to get your photo taken with Usain Bolt, and a brilliant night of laughter, friendship and questionable fashion choices:
The sign above the door of the Cafe says “Life in the Titanic Quarter”… truer, more colourful and more beautiful day by day!
In a big busy community like the Dock, things are always in a constant state of flux: new meetings, fresh friendships, hellos, goodbyes, so-happy-you-could-cry moments, so-sad-you-could-cry moments, and a constant stream of new faces.
So it’s a big moment when one of our longest-lasting familiar faces moves on to pastures new. So, all together: JORRRDDAAAAANNNNN!!!!
Jordan has been part of Dock Cafe life ever since the doors first opened – or very nearly! He reckons his first visit was on our second-ever day of business along with his mates from college.
Jordan and his gang used to take up residence in the “dark corner of iniquity” on the old black leather sofas hidden behind the pillar in the gloomiest corner of the cafe (anyone else remember when Dock Cafe looked like this?!)
Partly as payment for all the coffees and cakes they wolfed down in the dark corner of iniquity, Jordan became a Dock volunteer (one of the very first students to sign up!) after he finished college. Then he became a Dock intern through the Youth Employment Scheme, and by the time of the Giro Big Start back in 2014 Jordan was practically able to run the cafe by himself (with great support and mentorship from James – for those of you old enough to remember the Karate Kid, they called each other ‘Kohai’ and ‘Sensai’.)
Never one to miss a rising star, Andy in the Mace spotted Jordan’s potential too and soon he was juggling Dock volunteer/intern times with shifts in the shop next door. So anyone who has lived in, worked in or visited the Titanic Quarter in the last couple of years has almost definitely been served a Dock cuppa, a Mace newspaper or a Green Deli sandwich by Jordan at some stage! His constant smile and gravity-defying hair have been part of daily life in the Titanic Quarter and he has been foundational in the friendships, the faith stories and the family atmosphere of the place right the way through.
So on his last day before heading off to uni in Manchester – we’ll just take a moment to salute one of the absolute stars of Dock life. (In your best Maximus-from-Gladiator voice): The student who became a volunteer. The volunteer who became an intern. The intern who became a sales assistant. The sales assistant who became a TQ legend. We will have our tea & buns – in this life or the next!