Let them eat Cake!

Like many another organisation The Chiswick Calendar has had to do some nifty footwork to react to changing circumstances over the past few weeks. Out went the events listings and the Club Card promotions. In came a whole new website look, with the main focus on local news, Covid-19 Help & Information and Lockdown Things to do. Nearly forty years writing about world events and what’s the thing I’ve written that people are most interested in? Where to buy flour and eggs!

As people have found it increasingly difficult to get delivery slots from supermarkets, so they have started exploring which of our local independent shops are doing deliveries, and the businesses have responded.

Images above: cakes from Debaere

Images above: Hammonds Butcher & Deli beside Kew Bridge

Local independent food shops doing deliveries

Macken Brothers

Macken Brothers butchers on Turnham Green Terrace quickly made the transition from supplying hotels and restaurants to delivering to individual residents. Macken Brothers is a family run business that has a loyal following, as they supply the very best quality meat sourced from the highest quality farms in the British Isles. They have been on the Terrace for decades and know many of their customers personally. They also have the advantage of owning a fleet of vans, so they were able to answer the call to support those of us who are ‘shielded’ or self-isolating straight away.

Hammonds Butcher & Deli

Hammonds Butcher & Deli on the other hand were caught flat-footed, as they had sold their distinctive green delivery van last year. They found themselves doing deliveries by foot. Since butcher Ken Hammond moved from his shop on Strand on the Green to their current location beside Kew Bridge and went into business with the Ferguson family, they have struggled to let people know they are there as they are literally out of sight, down below the level of the bridge.

Now, with a new van, making 50 or so deliveries a week, they are are doing three or four times the amount of business than they were three weeks ago and finding that people appreciate the quality and provenance of their food and are coming back for more. Like Mackens, they get their meat from farms in Scotland, and deal directly with a range of small producers of high quality goods.

“We are able to be more nimble and flexible than the big supermarkets” says Derek Ferguson. “We have struggled to get flour and pasta, but we’ve managed. Our fish comes from Cornwall and is down to two deliveries a week”.

Though he acknowledges the desire for local delivery is a business opportunity, (they provide free delivery within a three mile radius of the shop) Derek is very careful not to over promise. They prioritise the elderly and vulnerable. They usually stock cheeses, wines, fresh bread, artisan biscuits, wine and quite a wide range of groceries, but instead of telling someone in his ‘elderly and vulnerable’ category that they don’t stock something they need, they have been known to nip next door to Sainsburys to add whatever it is the customer wants to the delivery. If you are able to go into the shop, it’s open, taking two customers at a time.

Images above: Fouberts in Turnham Green Terrace

Covent Garden Fishmongers

Gary Diamond, owner of the Covent Garden Fishmongers shop in Turnham Green Terrace is also finding he’s spending more time on the road. Since Billingsgate fish market and most of the fishing ports, boats and markets around the country have now closed, he is having to drive to the south coast himself to buy fish from independent fishing boats. The benefit of being a second generation fishmonger in a long established family business is that he has the contacts and goodwill to do that, but it does mean he has to make some compromises:

“I can guarantee super fresh inshore local English fish but the huge variety I normally stock won’t be available for a while” he says. “For now I will stay open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9.00am to 3.00pm but may have to reduce the days so that I can drive to Cornwall and the South Coast to pick the fish up myself, but time will tell”.

Fouberts

Fouberts on Turnham Green Terrace is another food establishment which has started doing home deliveries within Chiswick over the past couple of weeks. Maria and Luciano started their Chiswick shop in 1978. Daughter Karina told me her parents are still serving in the shop, when others of their age are shielding themselves, but they are behind the ice cream counter and it is she who takes the orders and payments from customers at the door.

“Should they not be at home?” I asked her. “Where is home? Home is the shop for them” she told me.

Images above: Mari Deli; Grove Park Deli

Mari Deli

Mari Deli on Chiswick Mall is also busy. They sell Italian groceries and freshly cooked meals to take away. As of yesterday (20 April) they will be open seven days a week.

Grove Park Deli

Jan at Grove Park Deli has always provided a catering service as well as operating the little deli on Fauconberg Rd. She is doing deliveries of home-cooked food – a variety of different salads, sandwiches, cakes and pastries, and lunch and supper dishes every day except Sunday.

Images above: Côte at Home Mint, Pea & Courgette soup and Boef Bourguignon

Changing the business model to meet the demand

Other businesses have taken a more radical approach, tearing up their business plan and rethinking it. Côte Brasserie’s restaurants remain closed, but this week it announced it has changed its business model totally, launching an online delivery service Côte at Home. The Italians have also launched an e-store for online grocery shopping and wholesalers Debaere, based in Acton, have scaled down their portions to deliver to households rather than cafes and restaurants.

Côte at Home

Côte at Home offers online the same dishes you would have been able to eat in their restaurants – modern French brasserie fare, including regional specialities and traditional classics.

‘We now deliver high quality produce from our kitchen, cellar and butchery to your door. Stock up with chilled bistro meals created by our chefs, ready for your over or freezer’.

The Italians

The Italians, at the western end of the High Rd, have a small cafe and deli counter within a grocery store specialising in Italian goods. The have launched an e-shop with most of the goods you can find in the store. The shop remains open from 9.00am to 9.00pm Monday to Sunday and you can also order their pizzas Thursday to Sunday from 12.00 – 9.00pm through Deliveroo.

Images above: Debaere coffee & walnut cake and pastries

Debaere

Debaere was established in 1998 by Ric DeBaere, a Master Pastry Chef From Belgium. Before the Coronavirus outbreak and the shut down of the hospitality industry, their main business was  providing premium artisan cakes, patisserie, desserts, continental pastries to coffeeshops, retailers, and event venues in west London. They now offering freshly baked, bread, cakes and pastries in household sized quantities, delivered to your door.

The Post Room Cafe

The Post Room Cafe on Bedford Corner shut on 23 March and reopened just over a week ago.

“We took the opportunity to reflect on the unfolding events” says owner Burzin Mistry. “We changed from being a coffee shop to being a mini grocery store, but retaining our love for coffee and food. Customers appreciate the fact they can come in safely and buy some basics like flour, eggs, milk and coffee”.

They are now open seven days a week and are hoping to start making deliveries this week.

Image above: Tamp coffee shop, Devonshire Rd

The furlough Catch 22

The problem for many businesses is that in order for their staff to be paid on furlough, they can’t make any money, or it jeopardises the payments. Restaurants such as Chateau and Michael Nadra have decided against going the takeaway route as they don’t think it will make enough money to be worthwhile.

Tamp

Some business owners such as Dorian, who owns Tamp on Devonshire Rd, and Spencer and Jason Wheeler who run the garden centre on Turnham Green Terrace, are working in splendid isolation, as they’ve put their staff on furlough. Spencer and Jason come in three times a week to water their stock and do a few local deliveries. Dorian is opening the cafe on his own this weekend (Saturday and Sunday 8.00am-2.00pm), partly to keep his regulars happy and partly to use up his stocks of freshly roasted coffee beans.

You will find cafe owners virtually begging you to take coffee beans off their hands. Artisan and Chief are doing deliveries of coffee beans houses so they don’t go to waste.

Many restaurants and cafes which closed their doors three weeks ago remain shut – la Trompette, Le Vacherin, Michael Nadra, Annie’s and Little Bird, Chiswick Fire Station, High Rd Brasserie, The Italian Job, Vinoteca, Villa di Geggiano, The Crown for example.

As well as the furlough catch-22 restaurants have to consider whether their kitchen is big enough for their staff to work together safely, or alternately if it isn’t, whether one or two people could  handle the demand if they remained open.

Images above: dishes from Napoli on the Road and Annapurna

Restaurants still open

Those which are open for takeaway have mainly signed up with delivery companies such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo if they weren’t already. Avanti is an example of one which has just started delivering. Tarantella is another. Others which remain open for takeaway and delivery include: Napoli on the Road, Annapurna and Peppers in Fauconberg Rd

Some, such as Hare & Tortoise are doing delivery only, no walk-ins. May’s Chinese Cuisine is also delivery only.

Singapore Gardens

Singapore Gardens, the Malay and Chinese restaurant, used to do a roaring trade in takeaway food.  They posted on Facebook last week:

‘Whilst our doors are temporarily shut for the first time since 1983, a small team of our dedicates staff remain working in order to serve and nourish NHS frontline workers. We are honoured to be providing 100 meals, 5 days a week, to both Chelsea and Westminster and West Middlesex hospitals’.

The Chiswick Calendar directory

Find details of all the food establishments mentioned here which are open for pick up or delivery in our Food Deliveries guide.

Food Deliveries guide