Talking to Des Faul, it’s clear he’s a man who wears his heart on his sleeve – and that heart has “Sligo” written large all over it. As the current President of Sligo Chamber of Commerce and past Chairman of Sligo Tidy Towns, he does admit that his volunteer workload can be quite heavy. At the same time Des is the proprietor of Café Fleur on O’Connell Street.
Des is a firm believer in the old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats and works tirelessly to promote Sligo, encouraging all businesses to pull together. He sees the Wild Atlantic Way as a real opportunity for the town and feels it has re-ignited the tourism sector. Joining the Sligo Food Trail was a natural step for him; another way to work with other like-minded businesses in co-operative marketing.
His work ethic stems from the family business; his parents ran a B&B and all five children had a role to play. As Des wryly puts it, ‘we learned how to handle an iron from a very early age’. In those pre-mobile phone days, the least popular job was ‘minding the house’ involving endless hours of waiting for guests to arrive.
Although his career aspirations were in the area of design, Des went on to study graphic design in Letterkenny. Des went into full time employment in catering back in 1993 in the original Bistro Bianconi. A few years later he enjoyed a carefree year in Australia before returning to Ireland and the hospitality industry. The next five years were spent in Westport, Co. Mayo managing O’Cee’s Coffee Shop. However the lure of going into business for himself and his love of his home town proved too strong and he returned to Sligo in 2007 to open Café Fleur.
The timing wasn’t optimal as the Celtic Tiger was beating a hasty retreat, but as Des has proved, a good business will survive and thrive even in a recession. His inspiration came from businesses he had seen in Rotterdam, he wanted to set up a gourmet sandwich shop serving excellent coffee. Café Fleur doesn’t cut corners with ingredients and proudly offers 13 different types of cheese on a choice of eight breads as well as a host of other deli favourites. Their clientele are a combination of business regulars and tourists in season.
When Des isn’t busy working, he and his wife Delys enjoy travelling, mainly during the quieter winter off season. Des also enjoys letting off steam on a mountain bike and believes that Sligo has great potential for bike trails. He clearly loves the sport and lights up as he describes the Red Bull Foxhunt in Rostrevor Trail Centre in Co. Down. Des and 400 other mountain bikers will tear down the hills at top speed, trying to outrun the ‘fox’ one of the top riders in the world.
It’s work hard/bike hard ethos and it certainly seems to be working well for Des Faul.