Grattan Family Grocery and Delicatessen, Donaghadee

A new business, Grattan’s Family Greengrocers & Fine Food Store, opened on New Street in the seaside town of Donaghadee in 2020.

It was indeed ‘new’, putting innovation and niche marketing at the forefront and aiming to be different from the previously flourishing Harvest Fayre.

That partners Peter Wallace and Gemma Montgomery’s dream was not just to survive but to thrive, despite the Covid pandemic gripping the world, is a testament to their hard work and business acumen.

Recognition by the Belfast Telegraph The Business Awards 2022 as Retailer of the Year was the icing on the cake. It “officially did the trick” despite its modest size of 600 square feet.

Yet that only happened thanks to a half-joking, disposable conversation between Thomas Newell – who had just expanded his existing grocery store with the addition of a hardware store next door – and Gemma, who worked at Newell’s Harvest Fayre.

Thomas has succeeded but struggles to manage his new outlet at the same time as the original; the solution was the butt of jokes, but over time it came to fruition.

MANAGER ASSISTANT

Peter bought the grocery store and Gemma went from sales clerk to manager in the new business, Grattan’s Family Greengrocer.

Local Peter, whose family lives on a nearby farm, left a successful career in electrical testing to co-develop Grattan’s, a name borrowed from his grandfather.

Today, the award-winning specialty grocer with a passion for Northern Irish produce and fine artisan foods has delivered on its original vision to create a ‘more unique store in Northern Ireland’.

Its rise to popularity has been rapid and its inviting accolades include the McKenna’s Guide Best in Ireland award for 2021 and 2022.

The store’s goal is to support local artisan producers and promote sustainability. During the lockdown it was a hub in the community and one of the only shops open in town.

“The store delivered between 40 and 50 customers a day, at a time when almost everything was closed,” explains Peter. “Our hours of operation, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., ensured residents continued to receive quality farm-fresh produce.

“As the lockdown has eased, it has even extended to producers of street of hope, the highly successful BBC drama which has just wrapped filming for a second series in the seaside town.

Gemma says: “Because of the Covid, we quickly adapted to our new way of life by offering the delivery service, even going so far as to collect items from other stores for customers who could not leave the house. them.

“These excellent community relationships have been central to our success, as have our connections with other businesses in the area to which we also supply our products.”

“We are extremely lucky to have an excellent team here at Grattan. Our team consists of Heather Irwin, who has been in the store for 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge you simply can’t beat; Daniel Gaw, who is my son and helps me out on Saturdays; Myfanwy Thomas who lives there; and Tori Cardwell, also a local girl who originally came to us for an internship and was such an asset we couldn’t let her go.

“Without a great team, we couldn’t have made Grattan’s the company it is today.”

Clients include celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi (who owns a string of successful restaurants and delis across London), The Bull & Claw, Lighthouse Bar & Grill, Bridewell Cafe, Saints & Sinners, Meadowbank Social Club , Bow Bells Coffee and Copeland Distillery. .

FUTURE PLANS

The store has big ideas on the horizon to expand its existing services.

It will launch a deli in the back of the store later this year, expanding into sliced ​​meats as well as its own condiments, including coleslaw.

Gemma says, “We’re such a small company and we thought we could compete for a major award, but here we are.

“Peter took over the existing small greengrocers and we started running and expanded it.

“We’ve had lots of support and lots of very loyal returning customers, including many Londoners moving to Donaghadee thanks to hybrid working.

“We focus on Northern Irish produce because at the time there were so many producers of all sorts of things that we took that on and tried to keep the business as much Northern Irish and Irish as possible.”

Peter says: “We are delighted with the quality of Grattan’s. We named the store after my grandparents, so it means a lot to win such an accolade as Retailer of the Year. »

Today, the average shopping basket spend exceeds £30, in recognition that consumers are willing to spend more to be assured of quality from farm to field to fork.

Blend of coffee, edible flowers (for the finishing touch of a dinner party), dulse, whole leeks, fatty and juicy strawberries, organic honey, baskets personally prepared by the owners, olives (and olive oil), and a list of produce fast growing – around 70/80 – at last count everything adds to the mix.

Peter says: “We use both Comber potatoes and even more locally grown potatoes – from the outskirts of town, for example, and many other artisans of which there are too many names to mention. .

“Donaghadee’s wonderful honey is harvested on Hogstown Road by our good friend Owen Wilson. Flowing Honey and Cut Comb are both available for purchase.

VACATIONERS

Gemma says, “Also, the clientele is growing. Summer visitors to local caravan sites add to the numbers – with a surprise.

“Seasonal soup vegetables are the best-selling produce, and we even see people from Belfast and beyond as regular customers for the vegetables. It is particularly popular among caravan users, with many also requesting a supply to take home.

“Others may come on day trips, perhaps encouraged by the success of the town’s BBC drama alter ego, Port Devine, where Donaghadee is the only filming location.

“All is good for business and although we are just starting to become profitable after our initial investment, the future looks bright.”

Peter says: “We’ve been through Covid and Brexit is not impacting supply – as it’s all locally sourced – so, just like our edible flowers, the future looks rosy.”