A couple from Londonderry have added a touch of je ne sais quo to the center of Irish language and arts, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, with a French-inspired café, bakery and deli.
With help from the Go For It scheme, in association with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Bácús has proven hugely popular since it was launched in early 2022 by couple Samantha Doherty and partner Laurent Pirone, originally from Paris.
The new bakery, housed in the Cultúrlann building, offers baked goods including sourdough breads and pastries, as well as croissants and pain au chocolat. Each day a choice of light lunch dishes such as soups and quiches is offered.
Samantha, who manages commercial operations, said: “Laurent likes to give a French and European touch to his dishes such as hot onion soup and quiche Lorraine and a selection of French breads such as fougasse, brioche and baguettes. . However, you can also find traditional Irish staples on the menu, such as homemade sourdough, wheaten bread, scones and stew.
Laurent has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, having previously worked as a chef de cuisine in Paris before returning to Londonderry in 2009.
“He is so passionate about food and has always wanted to return to hospitality and use his art of cooking to bring a taste of France here.” she explained.
The couple got in touch with Go For It in October 2021 about their longtime dream of opening a new French-inspired cafe and went through the program with the help of mentor Caolan Campbell.
Samantha continued: “Just as we were finishing the program, we had the opportunity to visit the Cultúrlann unit, so we told Go For It about it. Because Laurent is a chef, it seemed logical to do a bit of both – a café and a bakery.
“Bácús means “bakery” in Irish. Go For It encouraged us and said it was low risk for us as we didn’t have to purchase any equipment other than some small specialist bakery equipment as everything else was already in place.
While the couple have been extremely busy keeping Bácús running, Samantha is also working with a brand strategist and developing her marketing and social media skills.
She says the priority at the moment is to develop the customer base and find out what people really want: “Bread is definitely in high demand – sourdough is really in. People want quality food and they love having someone make it daily on site! »
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane DC, Cllr Graham Warke, praised the companies: “I am delighted that Bácús has received the help and guidance of the Go For It program to meet the often daunting challenges of starting -up. Our hospitality industry has had a tough few years during the pandemic. However, Bácús is one of many new cafes and restaurants that have sprung up in recent months to add ever-increasing variety to the city’s hotel offering.
“I would like to wish Samantha and Laurent good luck as they embark on this exciting new adventure, and I look forward to calling to sample their delicious fine dining offerings in the near future.”
Business Advisor, Caolan Campbell of Enterprise North West, added: “Samantha and Laurent are fully committed to the Go For It program. We first reviewed a business plan by setting their goals, conducting market research and establishing prices. From there, we worked with them to come up with a two-year financial forecast, which took into account their projected sales against their initial and ongoing expenses.
“It really helped them understand the finances of running a business, as well as other areas such as health, safety and insurance, which gave them a brilliant knowledge base to build on. business.
“I am delighted to see that they have now opened their new cafe within the Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin center and have been negotiating for several weeks offering a very tasty menu which I expected with Laurent’s cooking skills!”