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The Hazel House
Honesty Box

Inside the Dublin café which runs on trust... and a little caffeine

The Hazel House has an honesty box and everyone loves it.

WHILE BIG RETAILERS hire security guards and fit security tags to every shoelace, one café has done away with the register altogether.

But rather than having trouble with customers skipping out on their bills, the only problem The Hazel House staff have to deal with under its honest-box system is locals overpaying and refusing to help themselves to change.

The honesty-box system is the brain-child of owner and carpenter Niall Fitzharris, who wanted to come up with a way to run the self-service café without leaving his woodworking studio.

The business, in an old farmhouse at Rathfarnam in the Dublin hills, also sells Irish crafts from ceramics to jewellery and runs woodworking classes.

BpT_H5mIgAATspg Rathfarnam's Hazel House. Twitter / thehazelhouseie Twitter / thehazelhouseie / thehazelhouseie

Hazel House’s Fionnuala Malone, who now looks after its crafts and regular events, said she initially questioned if the plan was too risky, but the honesty system had worked perfectly from the start.

“I think that people like that they feel trusted,” she said.

So often now, people don’t feel like that – they go into a shop and there is a security guard there and they feel watched. What we’re doing goes against all that.”

Cafe Twitter / thehazelhouseie Twitter / thehazelhouseie / thehazelhouseie

Earlier this year, The Vault coffee shop in the small North Dakota town of Valley City drew international attention for its staff-free honour system.

Its owners, David and Kimberly Brekke, said the idea of honesty might come as a shock to people who hadn’t grown up in a tight-knit community, but to them it made perfect sense.

Malone said The Hazel House was an active part of the Rathfarnam social fabric, hosting regular movie nights and events, and everyone liked the honesty-box set up.

The Hazel House / YouTube

“It has been working really well from the beginning; we have never had a problem so far – everyone’s been honest,” she said.

“When people come in they  laugh and they’re a bit surprised that we are doing it that way, but everyone likes the system.”

READ: This café’s strict ‘no hipsters’ policy takes an unexpected turn

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