Newcastle deli scoops title of UK’s best independent sandwich retailer of the year

A Newcastle deli has scooped the title of the UK’s “independent sandwich retailer of the year” at an awards ceremony.

Dene’s Deli, on Jesmond Road in Jesmond, celebrated its 30th anniversary under the stewardship of Gill Reeve in 2023. She picked up the award for the second time at the Sandwich & Food to Go Awards (better known as the Sammies), which are said to be the “Grammys of the sandwich world” on May 9.

The recent commendation came seven years after the deli first won the award in 2017, with the shop known for top 20 sandwich board – where Kamikaze Chicken remains firmly at the top. Others on the list include “last mango in Paris”, “chicken, banana and mango chutney” and the “local hero” – made with gammon, nettle cheese, raspberry mustard mayo, carrot and spinach.

Owner Gill said she was over the moon and very proud to win the title for a second time. She told ChronicleLive: “They sent mystery shoppers who commented on the mixture of quality ingredients, good service and ambience.

“Personally, I think a lot of it is concentrating on one thing and sticking with it and doing it well. We’ve done this for over 30 years, whereas lots of people have diversified, but this works and we’ve evolved with the times while sticking with what we know people want.”

The Pestorami at Dene's Deli - pastrami, mozzarella, pesto, sun-blushed tomatoes, and rocket
The Pestorami at Dene’s Deli – pastrami, mozzarella, pesto, sun-blushed tomatoes, and rocket

Despite the win, the last four years have been some of the most testing Dene’s Deli has faced. The Coronavirus pandemic, cost of living crisis and the now-scrapped Jesmond Low Traffic Neighbourhood have all been huge challenges, Gill says.

She continued: “The biggest challenge of all of that is the uncertainty involved, it’s not good for anybody psychologically. When you have had a business for over 25 years and you can feel it being pulled away or the chance of it being pulled away is there, you have got to take each day at a time and fight to survive.

“Each battle I have fought I have been pleased to have stood up for myself. It’s paid off.”

Gill Reeve owner of Dene's Deli with the Sammies' award.
Gill Reeve owner of Dene’s Deli with the Sammies’ award.

While Gill has no plans to retire any time soon, she is looking to “gradually let go a bit” with her daughter Lydia set to take the helm at some point in the future. Gill added: “I’m trying to do less myself and I have got a fabulous team; a great manager in Martin, a great chef in Gawen, and I know with Lydia I’m leaving it in safe, capable hands.”

“And I have to thank all our loyal customers, they have been coming here for the last 30 years. They longevity would be nothing without all of them, many of whom we know the names of as they’ve stayed so loyal.”

Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich & Food to Go Association said: “In an industry which is everchanging, it isn’t always easy to keep up with trends. However, every year we receive entries from retailers across the country who just do that, with many going above and beyond to provide their customers with products which are high quality and delicious.

“Dene’s Deli showcased exactly what we were looking for in this category and a very worthy winner! We hope the full team is delighted to have received the recognition.

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View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/denes-deli-jesmond-independent-sammies-29166758

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