For the myriad employees working in central George Town who miss the lunch options provided by Fort Street Market when it closed its doors on 11 September, 2008, relief is in sight.
Café del Sol, the popular Internet café chain that has locations in Camana Bay, on Lawrence Boulevard in the Marquee Plaza and in George Town, opened its newest location on 11 June, right where the popular lunch spot Fort Street Market used to be.
The building has been divided into four units, now housing three jewellery stores and Café del Sol, but the café’s opening means downtown employees – who have also benefitted from the George Town opening of an Al La Kebab location since the closing of Fort Street Market – have even more to choose from for their lunchtime cuisine.
‘It was in a chance conversation with Woody Foster, a friend of mine, in which he happened to mention that they were closing Fort Street Market to concentrate their efforts on their main business that I immediately recognised that this was perhaps the best location on the island for our newest location,’ said Café del Sol owner Marek Bradbury.
This fourth location will feature the same menu that is so favoured in the other locations, Mr. Bradbury assured.
‘Our customers have come to rely on us for quality beverages, sandwiches, coffee, pastries and salads,’ he said. ‘Since opening, we have seen the smiles on all of our regular customers’ faces who have been anxiously waiting for us to open, and those loyal customers are bringing in their friends and introducing them to our wonderful coffee.’
Diners will consist mainly of the café’s current loyal customers, downtown workers and, of course, cruise ship passengers. The café’s opening hours will reflect this demographic, as it will open on Sundays when a cruise ship is in town. Otherwise, opening at 7am Monday to Friday mornings for the pre-work caffeine boost that so many rely on. The café will also be open on Saturday from 9am to 3pm and, when cruise ships are in port, on Sundays from 9am to 3pm.
Four locations, however, are not enough for Mr. Bradbury.
‘We’d love to be involved in the airport expansion, Savannah, West Bay … that would give us a total of seven shops, and allow us to effectively serve the entire island and be conveniently located nearest to all our customers,’ he explained.
The café will continue its consistent menu and décor to allow for familiarity among all locations.
‘Each of our four locations has a very similar layout and décor, which is instantly recognisable and comfortable to our customers,’ said Mr. Bradbury. ‘Our equipment and layout are also very similar from the staff’s point of view and this allows us to easily move staff from one location to the next without the need for additional training.’
Despite the fact that a number of coffee shops exist throughout the island, Mr. Bradbury emphasised Café del Sol’s staff’s friendly and interactive style with their customers as one of its main draws.
‘So many of our customers are known to us – just walking in the door, we know them by name, we know how they like their order, and they know our staff,’ he said.
Changes have taken place over the past three years, since the company was purchased by Mr. Bradbury from its previous owners.
‘We have added a number of items to our menu because of specific requests made by our customers,’ he said.
Coffee aficionados do not need to fret, however. The focus on and quality of Café del Sol’s coffee will always remain, assured Mr. Bradbury.
‘There is one significant distinction between Café del Sol and a number of other establishments on the island – we don’t cook, we don’t serve soup or omelettes,’ he said.
‘First and foremost, we are a coffee shop and what we do, and do very well, is serve coffee, espresso, cappuccino and related beverages containing coffee – that is our core business and we will always remain true to that business.’