Published on February 7, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour0
A glug of this and a mmm of that
A couple with their fingers definitely on the North East drinking and dining pulse have been welcoming new faces at their Newcastle shop since their move there in November.
Simone and Ian Clarkin run Mmm…Glug delicatessen and bottle shop on Grainger Street in the city, having been a feature in the nearby Grainger Market for several years.
Simone capitalised on her background in sourcing and importing food and drink – wine in particular – to restaurants and independent shops all over the country by opening Mmm… in May 2008 in a tiny, open-sided unit. The shop quickly grew a reputation for being able to winkle out deli goods ranging from olive oil, pasta and pickles to flour, spices and honey that supermarkets didn’t stock.
Inevitably, a bigger unit was needed in the Grainger Market, then the next-door premises fell vacant and Ian who then had a full-time job but had helped out as “Saturday Boy” in Mmm… felt the time was right to develop the Glug part of the business – selling beer principally from the locality with wines and spirits as chasers.
Business continued to soar and a move to premises just outside the historic market was prompted by calculating the footfall on late shopping nights and Sunday trading when the market was closed. There was also the lure of more visibility and further customer awareness – and a bigger shop with far more potential.
“A lot of our new customers hadn’t heard of us before,” says Ian. “They didn’t use the Grainger Market – and a surprising number of them had never heard of it which I found astonishing. We needed a more prominent city location anyway.
“We’ve got an enlarged range throughout the shop through recommendations and based on what a lot of people have asked for.”
Even Ian wasn’t prepared for the huge interest in bottled and canned beer that was coming, but having taken off in the old shop it has accelerated in the new premises.
“We listen very carefully to what people are saying,” says Ian. “People will go into pubs and wine bars and next day come in and ask for what they’ve had in bottle or can.”
A chiller and shelves of beer morph into wines and spirits on one side while balsamic vinegar, dry goods, continental sausage and eggs take up the other in a complementary cycle. A large downstairs space is to be used as a tasting room and for private functions kitted out with a bar and storage.
The name Mmm…Glug sums it up well. It’s onomatopoeic; it lives up to its promise.