UPDATE–Ballygiblin’s closed and Derek works at the Prescott in Ottawa and at Danby’s in Richmond. Chef Dusty Pettes also works at Danby’s and Chef Dan Serson is a chef at Chesswood on Bridge Street that used to be Ballygiblins.
They say to always surround yourself with good people, and I personally think that Carleton Place is lucky to have someone like Derek Levesque from Ballygiblin’s around. I have always heard a lot of good things that he does for people, and I know he goes out of his way for the community. But what does anyone really know about him?
His Mother told him after he completed High School that he needed to get out in the world and find a job. He agreed with her and began to work at the iconic Prescott on Preston Street in Ottawa as a beer packer. Six months later one of their waiters retired and Derek was sent to work on the floor. Hundreds of Meatball sandwiches and quarts of beer later he came to Carleton Place and worked at The Mississippi Hotel. Then it was on to St James Gate to work with Terry MacDonald.
Good things happen to good people, and after Joe Buckley bought the old Bridge Tavern he knew exactly who to approach to create Ballygiblin’s. It’s been 8.5 years since the day Derek brought in a new concept for the restaurant. Of course the biggest challenge to any business these days is money and staffing. I think the greatest gift in the world to a restaurant is good employees and have them do things the way you’d like to have it done. He gives his chefs Dusty Pettes and Dan free reign in the kitchen, and together they have created Bally’s culinary family that everyone knows.
When you’re working with excellent people it brings good things out in you and Derek gives back in a big way. There are about 25 restaurants in town, so what makes Ballygiblin’s different? They don’t have your typical pub fare, and instead offer their own renditions. Sometimes it can be eclectic choices to test out a new item that might be permanently added to the menu. Bally’s uses fresh veggies that are personally brought to their door by local farmers. Then there is the local beef for those hamburgers everyone raves about. People love their nightly features, and his only regret was a seafood broil they did years ago.
With all the time he spends with people Derek does enjoy a little solitude, even though hockey is still king in his life. He loves his secluded cottage near Blakeney and enjoys listening to old rock, blues and jazz.
Derek really wishes more people would come downtown, and if he had a magic wand he would love to have a patio. When I was there he was busy helping the new Mediterranean restaurant next door. I don’t have to question him when he says his motto is’ “be kind” as it’s not the first time I have seen him in action. When you realize who the good people are in life, you’re lucky, and the town of Carleton Place should be honoured to have Derek from Ballygiblin’s running a business in our town.