When couple Michael McDonnell and Yhynezka Gil (Gina) teamed up with their friend Sarah Jones to grow their business, people warned them all not to. “It will spoil your friendship, you won’t be able to work together, it’s dangerous to mix friendship with business”. They listened to all of the warnings, but they felt that they had just what they needed to build a successful business together: trust, a sense of humour and a shared work ethic. “Sarah and I had known each other for a while as we worked together in a cafe before,” Michael told me over a coffee, “So we were work colleagues before we were friends.”
Michael set up the first elefante cafe in 2018 in San Agusti opposite Port Calanova. It’s well known for its brunch dishes and healthy but tasty food. Coming originally from the UK and previously running a successful construction business Michael wasn’t shy to start afresh and open his own place and work in the kitchen. But these days you won’t find him cooking as he manages the overall business whilst his partner Gina is in charge of marketing and Sarah deals with the client facing aspects of the business. It’s a good balance they say, but the most crucial element has been establishing a solid staff team. How did they do that? “Trial and error”, Sarah answers ruefully. They now have eleven people on the payroll which as a fellow small business person is impressive and terrifying to me at the same time. “We are so pleased with our team, they work really well together across our locations.”
But life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, “It’s not always easy to agree on a decision, but we have learned that we all have different skills and experiences, and that combining those means we find the best answer we can,” Gina says.
The elefante management team have come across their fair share of obstacles since going into business, not least of all the pandemic. But they also had opportunities come their way that they managed to secure. “We heard that the business in our Santa Catalina location was closing because of the pandemic and we managed to land it for Elefante”. The spot they are talking about is a prime location, on a corner just opposite the wildly popular Santa Catalina market. It’s a bright, welcoming place, bustling with people popping in for a coffee or grabbing one to go, and big enough for groups to sit comfortably inside and share freshly cooked breakfasts of waffles, avocado toasts and smoothie bowls.
The trend to serve locally grown produce with a clear focus on delicious but nutrition conscious plates is still on the rise and elefante are riding the wave. But this was always part of Michael’s plan, “Our philosophy is all about inclusion. We believe in this deeply and it drives us to offer a wide range of food and drink options; where there is no compromise on variety, quality and crucially taste. Since we started we have taken great care in hand-selecting and working with only the best local suppliers and whether you wish to eat meat, vegetarian or vegan dishes so there is always something for our clients to try.”
Future plans include: continuing to develop their offside work with the local superyacht industry who need daily deliveries of food for their crews when they are refitting on board or don’t have a chef on contract and the creation of a new production kitchen in a third location.
It’s exciting and encouraging to see young businesses pushing themselves in Mallorca. Best of luck to them. Find out more at www.elefantemallorca.com
Rotary Debate Finals
An exciting and interesting finale was promised for the final debates of the season at Palma Pictures this week, and that is exactly what the teams delivered. The teams from Lycee Francais, BIC, Agora and the Mallorca International School had managed to arrive at the finals after a fighting off competition from other international schools on the island. After two rounds to decide the placements from fourth to first, the winners were announced as the team from Mallorca International School in their first year participating in the event. The best debater of the season prize went to Damian McLeod from the Lycee Francais.
The teams were guests of Palma Pictures who hosted the finals in one of their studios, a great treat for the young people to see on a live film set. Palma Pictures with Age Concern also sponsored the prizes, and the refreshments were provided by Ticket Travel.
Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Calvia who have yet again pulled off a very successful event. If you want to find out more about the Rotary and becoming a member contact them on their website: rotarycalvia.com
The Rotary would also like to extend their grateful thanks to Clinica Juaneda for their generous sponsorship.