Bowes celebrates 10 years in business

This week, Bowes Foodhall & Café In Durrow County Laois, celebrates it’s 10th birthday. In July last year, Food Critic, Tom Doorley stopped off on his trip from Dublin to Cork and wanted to start a campaign for more ‘Boweism’ when he entered the foodhall. In his Daily Mail article, he had high praise “Bowe’s is all about feeding hungry people with rustic appetities and making them happy, indulging them, treating them with a genuine sense of generosity and hospitality. The country desperately needs more of this.”

Adrian Sheppard (Head Chef)

Bowes, where it all began

When Head Chef and Durrow native, Adrian Sheppard started in Bowe’s Café ten years ago, people weren’t afraid to tell him that he was “stonewall mad.” The belief was that there was no room for a café in the village with Durrow Castle across the road, and the Castle Arms Hotel a stones throw away. When owners Shane and Sarah Bowe approached Adrian, he was convinced straight away. He admired their vision, imagination and different way of looking at food. “They were thinking healthy” he tells me, “and away from the traditional carvery or fish and chips”. He was also delighted when they encouraged him to play with flavours. There was no attitude of “You can’t do that!” He was able to mix Moroccan spices with Irish flavours and enlightened by the Bowes’ willingness for change.

The Food

He believes the great success of Bowes is down to trust. “People must trust your imagination and flavours straight away, they have to get it, and they did, which was great. I’ve never seen a place to kick off so quickly. It was a combination of healthy food, home baking, the atmosphere, the décor, and that feeling of being ‘off the radar’ when you enter the premises.” The most popular dish in Bowes after ten years is still the warm chicken salad, “it is incredible how simple and popular it is” says Adrian. It is warm chicken with baby square potatoes and it became popular straight away. Other favourites include the Superfood Bowl, the Falafel Bowl, the Katsu Chicken Burger and the Castle Ciabatta.

Cancer scare

On 12th August 2022, Adrian was mopping out the floor in the cold room when he couldn’t catch his breath. Thinking it was the after effects of covid, he went to his doctor who diagnosed laryngitis and to come back in a couple of weeks if he wasn’t feeling better. “Me being a man I went back two months later and was immediately sent for tests in Tullamore. I had a scan that day and knew when I got a call only hours later, something was very wrong. When they told me I had Stage 3 lung cancer, I was numbed. I really didn’t know what to feel, it was scary. Very scary because my mother had died at 47 of lung cancer”. (he had just turned 46). Within two weeks Adrian was receiving chemotherapy and radium every day for 6 weeks. “When you get a fright of that magnitude you ask yourself – how long have I left?” He tells me, ”It changed the way I let things get to me. I don’t let problems get in on me the way it used to. Something clicked in me when I was sick. My new motto now is ‘It is what it is’.

Eva Fitzpatrick (Barista)

Bowes is a halfway point

The work ethos in the café is that everyone is treated equally, from washer-uppers to kitchen and floor staff. There are up to ten chefs in the kitchen now because “we don’t want them to burn out” and according to Adrian, staff have stayed a long time as a result. The serving staff can rotate as normal with café work but kitchen staff have stayed longer. Bowes, is like a meeting stop for people he says, “they come from all corners of the country, it’s a halfway point.” His favourite area is the walled garden out the back which he says is so well secluded that it is an “area of calm”. Finally, I ask Adrian what his work goal is for the next ten years, he thinks for a minute and tells me that it is “to maintain where we are now. Bowes really is on the map and very successful, I just want to sustain that level of success”.

Boweism is certainly here to stay!


Read More

Skip to content