Long time restaurateur Francis Domenech has died. Domenech, 77, passed away on the weekend. He was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
With his wife Marilyn, Domenech ran Baguette restaurant in Ascot for 37 years. The restaurant was recently listed for sale with Mrs Domenech saying she and her husband wanted to "relax and spend time with their family".
Francis Domenech hailed from the Catalan region of France. When the couple decided to set up a restaurant in 1976, Brisbane was a far different place and their formal French restaurant was seen as an exotic and glamorous addition to the city's dining scene.
In a previous interview, Mrs Domenech spoke of Baguette's launch and the first perceptions of the public.
“On opening night we had two film crews here, because there wasn't much happening in Brisbane. A whole new eating out came into being in the mid '70s. We were at the beginning, the watershed.”
Mrs Domenech said at the time Brisbane restaurants were very "Anglo-Saxon" and conservative.
“The most exotic things around were steak Diane and chicken in a basket. We were doing something far more contemporary and very different for Brisbane.”
Over the years, the Domenechs always stayed abreast of change in the food world, adapting their menu and decor accordingly.
David Pugh, owner of Restaurant Two in the CBD, worked at Baguette from 1988 to 1991.
“He was a mentor to me,” Pugh said. “He was such a nice guy. He was always very supportive and encouraging. Mind you, there was no middle ground with Francis. He always said if he didn't like something – and I respect him for that.”
Pugh said Domenech had always lived life to the full.
“Like most restaurateurs he ate too much, drank too much and smoked too much, and consequently there are lots of good stories about him. He will be very much missed in the industry.”
The Domenechs were awarded The Brisbane Times Queensland Good Food Guide Vittoria Legend award in April for services to the industry.