Co Down man Michael Nugent and his Barrister fiance Caitriona Doherty, are the hugely successful duo behind Northern Ireland’s most up-and-coming ice-cream chain.
Nugelato is the award-winning, independent ice-cream boutique based in Newcastle and Newry – with an emphasis on the importance of home-made recipes at its core.
We chatted to Michael, who just opened their third business and second Nugelato, in Newry’s thriving town centre (alternatively known as Sugar-Island), just a few months ago.
Michael and Caitriona originally opened their first ice-cream parlour on Newcastle promenade last summer, next door to his juice bar, Sucos, which opened five years ago.
“Nugelato stands out because we offer a fantastic product which we make ourselves. We offer bang-on-trend, seasonal, home-made flavours with a rotation of 14 constantly changing options.
“We offer classic tastes – but with a modern twist! We strongly believe the product speaks for itself because we’re passionate about ice-cream making, which has ran in my family since my grandfather started making it in the 1930’s!
“I grew up making ice-cream in my parents’s ice-cream shop, helping out from no age. My dad had a big influence on me due to his love for ice-cream.
“Even now, we love taking trips over to Italy every year to attend the annual gelato expo in Rimini, Italy which showcases the world’s most important talents in the artisan Gelato sector, a brilliant place to learn new exciting ways of doing things and to get inspiration for new flavours.
“I actually have an Engineering Degree – which has definitely come in handy as ice-cream making all comes down to science. I’m even a registered Gelato Master! The understanding and knowledge is there, which means we constantly produce innovative, improved flavours right from our kitchen.
“We’re so enthusiastic about our ice-cream – we believe it’s the best on the planet!
“Unlike other ice-cream parlours, we genuinely focus on ice-cream because we know that’s what we do best.
“That’s because excitingly, we’ve bucked the ‘seasonal’ trend and remain popular all-year-round, because our product speaks for itself.
“We’ve got brilliant support from our loyal customers, who all tell us that it not only looks good – it tastes good too.
“But we do offer a whole spectrum of desserts, which are all ice-cream based.
“Our most popular option, which we are most famous for is the Nuggy Pot Shaker which costs just £2.95. We’ve had it for a long time, but it’s very similar to the Freak Shake trend you’ll have been seeing recently. You can choose from a menu of six different options, or create your own which we love!”
Michael’s first ice-cream parlour came about after his parents encouraged him to expand his business empire, which already boasted popular juice bar, Sucos, which opened five years ago in Newcastle’s popular promenade.
“Our first ice-cream boutique in Newcastle is somewhere great that local people can be proud of. We like to cater for people who have just been out for dinner in a restaurant and fancy walking somewhere different for dessert. They can sit here, or go for a lovely relaxing walk along the promenade with their treat.
“It’s also a great option for families visiting nearby Slieve Donard and other local attractions.
“We have a great wide pavement meaning we have loads of outside seating, giving it a very continental feel for anyone wishing to relax.
“Meanwhile, we did loads of research before we decided to open in Newry and also just hoped it would go well! Thankfully, our product speaks for itself and we’ve been blown away by how well it’s done already!”
With Michael’s original business Suco, and the duo’s Nugelato parlours positively thriving, it should come as no surprise that Michael has his eyes set on even more locations throughout Northern Ireland…
“If the right place came up at the right time, we’d definitely be interested in Belfast! But there’s no immediate time frame – Caitriona and I are getting married on New Year’s Eve so we’ll need to plan our wedding first!”
And for anyone with a passion for business, Michael had this advice:
“Business is all about doing things differently. But if you’re going to try to do something the same – do it better!
“Asides from a clear business plan and a successful investment, you need to show how your idea is unique, and that your product is of the highest standard possible.
“It takes a lot of thought, planning – and above all else, hard work! On average, I work 14 hours a day 7 days a week, whilst Caitriona would do a full day’s work as a Barrister in Dublin before driving up North to serve ice-cream for hours.
“So you definitely have to have a passion for your business in order to motivate you. It has to be something you love!”
Nugelato is based at 23 Central Promenade in Newcastle and Newry town-centre. Check out their Facebook page here.