A couple in Derry~Londonderry have added a dash of je ne sais quoi to Derry’s Irish language and arts centre, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin – with a French inspired cafe, bakery and deli, thanks to the help of the Go For It programme, in association with Derry City and Strabane District Council.
The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Bácús, a new French-influenced cafe, bakery and deli has proved a hugely popular since it launched in early 2022 by couple Samantha Doherty and her partner Laurent Pirone – a native of Paris.
The new bakery, housed within the Cultúrlann building, offers baked products including sourdough breads and pastries, as well as croissants and pain au chocolat and every day there is a choice of light lunch options such as soups and quiches.
Samantha who manages the business operations, said: “Laurent likes to put a French and European twist on his dishes such as warm onion soup and quiche Lorraine and a selection of French breads like Fougasse, Brioche and Baguettes. However, you can find traditional Irish staples on the menu too such as homemade sourdough, wheaten bread, scones and stew.”
Laurent has more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, having previously worked as Head Chef in Paris before moving back to Derry~Londonderry in 2009.
“He is so passionate about food and always wanted to get back into hospitality and using his art for cooking to bring a taste of France to Derry.” she says.
The couple got in touch with Go For It in October 2021 about their long-held dream of opening a new French-inspired cafe and went through the programme with the help of mentor Caolan Campbell.
Samantha said: “Just as we were finishing the programme, we had the opportunity to go visit the unit in the Cultúrlann so we talked to Go For It about it. Because Laurent is a chef, it seemed to make sense to do a bit of both – a cafe and a bakery.
“Bácús means ‘bakery’ in Irish. Go For It encouraged us and said it was low risk for us because we didn’t have to buy any equipment apart from some small, specialised bakery equipment, as everything else was already in place.”
While the couple have been hugely busy getting Bácús up and running, Samantha is also working with a brand strategy manager and developing her marketing and social media skills.
She says the priority at the moment is to build up the customer base and find out what people really want: “Bread is definitely in huge demand – sourdough is really in vogue. People want quality food and they love that somebody is making it fresh daily on the premises!”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane DC, Cllr Graham Warke said: “I am delighted that Bácús received help and guidance from the Go For It programme in navigating the often daunting challenges of start up.
“Our hospitality sector has experienced a challenging couple of years during the pandemic. However, Bácús is one of a number of new cafes and restaurants that have emerged in recent months to add an ever-expanding variety to the city’s hospitality offering.
“I’d like to wish Samantha and Laurent the best of luck as they embark on this exciting new venture, and I look forward to calling in to sample their delectable foodie offering in the near future.”
Business Adviser, Caolan Campbell from Enterprise North West said: “Samantha and Laurent fully engaged in the Go For It Programme. We initially looked at a business plan by setting their goals, completing market research and establishing pricing. From this, we worked with them to complete a two-year financial forecast, that considered their projected sales against their their initial and ongoing expenses.
“This really helped them understand the finances of running a business, alongside other areas such as health and safety and insurance, which gave them a brilliant base of knowledge on which to build the business.
“I am delighted to see that they have now opened their new café within the Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin centre and been trading for a number of weeks offering a very tasty menu which I would expected with Laurent expertise culinary skills!”
Samantha and Laurent fully engaged in the Go For It Programme
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It team on 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com