A Day in the Life: Mark Cadden


FRONT OF HOUSE Mark Cadden pictured in Bar One in Castlebar, which reopened for indoor dining recently with the easing of restrictions. Pic: Ger Duffy


Name: Mark Cadden
Age: 46
Lives: Turlough, Castlebar, native of Westport
Occupation: Managing Director, Cadden’s Bar One

My day tends to start between 7.30am and 8am. I usually wake to the sound of my little boy Reuben (8) starting to mooch about. My wife, Katie, is encouraging me to listen to Fiona Brennan’s Positive Habit and her morning meditation, before I get out of bed. Meditation is something I have been trying to get into. My daughter, Willow (5) is last to rise and will have to be coaxed out of bed.
I love that we start the day together over breakfast. I’ll have homemade brown bread and eggs from Turlough Nursery or some yoghurt, fruit and my signature granola for breakfast. Coffee and Marty Whelan on Lyric FM feature heavily in my mornings. I invested in a Sage Barista coffee machine. It was worth every penny and makes super coffee.
I tend to work-out between 9.00am and 10.30am. If it is a school morning, Katie and I will drop the kids to school in Breaffy and head to Castlebar Tennis Club for a lesson or a game. If I cannot squeeze tennis in, I will hit the spinning bike at home or go for a run.I check in early with my parents who live in Westport and one, if not both, of my brothers who are on the East Coast. We are very close.
In normal times, I would have been showered and in Bar One by 11am for another coffee, before meetings and lunch service at midday. Unfortunately, these are anything but normal times. Bar One closed for indoor dining, for the second time in 2020, on Christmas Eve. We finally re-opened for indoor dining on Tuesday last, July 27.
Both closures have been particularly challenging across many fronts. Having no control over the direction of an award-winning business that had been painstakingly built over 19 years, was immensely difficult. The business was significantly impacted and we lost some fantastic team members. This was a major blow as before the first closure, we employed 29 people and operated six days a week. With a new front-of-house team, many of whom are returning to third level in the Autumn, we have to re-open on a phased basis. We now open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 4pm to 11.30pm. This was a difficult, but necessary decision to take in order to remain viable.
On the bright side, with a later start for service, I can keep up the things that got me through the pandemic – playing with the kids, deep tissue massages, sea swims and trips to Westport to see my parents. My Dad has not been in the best of health and I’m determined to spend as much time in Westport as I can. Time is precious.
Even with a later service time in Bar One, there are numerous telephone calls to take and emails to reply to. When you run a hospitality business you keep many plates spinning. I could be dealing with a burst pipe and a broken dishwasher, whilst reviewing menu changes. My phone does not seem to stop. I try and schedule meetings before service starts.
Before the doors open, I will have a run through bookings for the evening and plan the service out with the team. We have some incredible local suppliers and it is truly a great feeling to be back showcasing their beautiful produce.
I have always been quite ‘hands on’ when it comes to service, so I will be on the floor, greeting and looking after customers. I grew up immersed in hospitality – my parents Mary and Michael – owned the celebrated Asgard Bar and Restaurant at the Quay in Westport. Hospitality is my great love.
As we have a new front-of-house team and we are navigating new guidelines, I remain hands on and will miss Reuben and Willow’s dinnertime and bedtime between Tuesday and Saturday. I will pop out during service to telephone or Facetime to hear about their day. I love to hear what they have been getting up to. They are at a fun stage. I tend to eat on the go in Bar One. I am spoiled for choice.
I tend to leave Bar One around 10.30pm. I am grateful to live ten minutes from Bar One. I have company for the journey home as I tend to call either my brothers or my parents to see how their day went. I will jump in the shower to freshen up when I get in and may have a beer to unwind or a Sleep Tea if there is no beer on offer! As tempting as it is to watch Netflix, I am trying to read or just listen to a good playlist and chat to Katie. I aim to be in bed by 11.30pm. The morning comes around too soon!

Quickfire questions
If money was no object, what would you do?
Charter a yacht with crew and sail around the South of France and Italy with Katie and the kids for a month.

Something we don’t know about you?
I was hit by a bus when I was 3 years old at the Quay in Westport and lived to tell the tale!

Most unusual thing you’ve ever tasted?
Eel in Vietnam with my brother Paul.

Favourite place?
Anywhere near the sea.

What makes you angry?
I’m a pretty tolerant person and it would take something monumental to make me angry.

How do you unwind?
I crew on a boat called ‘As Lathair’ with Rory Casey. When you race with Mayo Sailing Club, in the beautiful Clew Bay, you lose all sense of time and place.

Three things always in your fridge?
Fresh eggs from Turlough Nursery, steaks and butter.

What makes you nervous?
Public speaking.

Last book you read?
‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl.

Favourite TV Show?
Currently Stanley Tucci in Italy on CNN, but eagerly awaiting season 3 of Succession.

Most famous person you ever met?
When I worked in the K Club, I met Pierce Brosnan and the Edge and of course, Michael Smurfit.

What do you miss about being a kid?
Sense of freedom and lack of judgment.

Most prized possession?
My wedding ring – it incorporates a part of my Dad’s wedding ring.

Best advice you were ever given?
Listen to your gut. It hasn’t let me down thus far.

Three words to describe you?
Kind, driven, humble.

First thing post-Covid?
Weekend in Paris in a certain hotel to belatedly celebrate a special birthday.