A busy day at The Fumbally means every entree sells out. It means after closing, owners Luca D'Alfonso and Aisling Rogerson sink into chairs at a table near the register with a few of their staff, Luca pouring a few small glasses of red wine and rolling a cigarette. Luca jokes, “We prepare for a war every day.” But the vibe inside The Fumbally is anything but hostile. The organizers of Dublin’s successful Flea Market and its cafe are just over seven months into their new venture with The Fumbally Cafe and enjoying packed tables and busy lines for their barrista. Set outside of the city centre in Dublin 8, The Fumbally is chic with high ceilings and spare walls, comfy couches and hulking, handbuilt wooden tables. The vibe is attracting everyone from members of the Guinness family to business types to artists topped out in kooky hats. But for Luca and Aisling, what they are building is more than a cafe, it's a community. So in addition to serving breakfast, lunch and treats every day except Sunday, The Fumbally is also host to gigs by up and coming bands, and even early morning yoga classes.
I sat down with Luca at the end of one of these busy days to chat about what inspires him, the menu, and the overall vibe at The Fumbally.
What inspires the menu? The food is simple - Mediterranean and North African-inspired. Wherever we can, we use organic products. And of course, wherever we can we use Irish products as well. We want to work directly with the farmer; we get our cheese from Gubbeen farm, and our olives from the Real Olive Company.
Where did you get your love of food? My father cooked. Most of our relationship was when he was cooking. [In the kitchen], the pressure of conversation is smaller while your hands are occupied.
How did you find the decor for The Fumbally? For weeks, we went to an auction in Rathmines. I won’t tell you the name because I don’t want everyone to go there! We also used recycled wood where we could find it. We found wood from the old Pointe Depot for a good price and Aisling’s brother Brian and our chef Sam built some of our tables. We let the wood dry for a year because we didn’t have a space yet!
Day to day, who will you find in The Fumbally? Artists and musicians, actors, creative types. There’s an office building behind the cafe, and art studios nearby. And of course, locals. Just people who live in the area. Before we moved in, they didn’t have anywhere else like this.
You’re bucking a big trend, what is it? When we were opening The Fumbally, we discovered Ted.com and were inspired by a video about the dangers of Facebook. So we don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. We’re going against traditional marketing tools. We prefer to use the money for more training for our staff.
What’s the biggest surprise in your new endeavour? How well we’re doing. We’re really blessed that everything has been such a success. The day before we opened, I had a panic attack. Everyone was saying “Are you sure about the position? You’re mad!”
You’re Italian, what keeps you in Dublin? Compared to Italy, the bureaucracy is easier. It’s small, but it’s still a capital. It’s an easy and simple city.
Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Emily Westbrooks is a Dublin-based creative and travel writer, artist and blogger. Raised and educated in Maine, Emily married an Irishman and moved to Dublin in 2008. She lives with her husband, Michael, on the northside of Dublin. Originally planning only to stay for a year, she now calls Dublin home. She loves exploring Dublin, adventuring through the hills of Ireland, and traveling around Europe,. And she really loves to write about her adventures, which she shares over on From China Village. She's passionate about design, and can't wait to change your perception of Irish craft and design.