The Saba Family, Ireland’s successful chain of Thai eateries and cocktail bars, is a family affair for managing director Paul Cadden.
In April, 2006, Paul Cadden visited Bangkok with his father, Michael, on a mission to recruit chefs for a new Thai restaurant that he planned to open in Dublin. Paul’s designated contact in Thailand was Taweesak Trakoolwattana (Tao), an esteemed chef who he had worked with previously. Paul hoped Tao would be able to introduce them to some suitable candidates.
They met in a cafe by the Chao Phraya River where Tao dropped a bombshell. He wanted to come back to Ireland and help open the restaurant – along with six other local chefs. This moment, recalls Paul, “was a boost of confidence. I got on really well with Tao. He believed in what we were going to do.”
Fifteen years later and Paul and Tao are still working together. There are now three Saba restaurants: on South William Street, Baggot Street and in Kildare Village. Tao and the other chefs are “like family,” remarks Paul. “We’re very close.”
Saba means “happy meeting place” in Thai: a fitting description for this chain of food outlets. Two years ago, Addy, a chef at the former Saba venue on Clarendon Street experienced kidney failure. His friend Saek and head chef at Saba in Windy Arbour promptly donated his own kidney, which was transplanted to his colleague and saved his life. The Saba family is not PR spin.
“The majority of people who work here don’t have family in Ireland,” explains Paul. “We are each other’s family.This is a happy meeting place for the customer and staff alike.”
Paul’s family is invested too. Saba To Go, the operation’s take-away service, which operates out of Rathmines, Deansgrange and Windy Arbour – is managed by his brother and right hand man Alan Cadden. Paul, Alan, and brother Mark, who owns the award winning Bar One in Castlebar, grew up in Westport, County Mayo.The family were imbued in hospitality. Michael, their father, was GM of Breaffy House Hotel Westport, while their mother Mary worked at Hotel Westport.
Read the full Saba article here.
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