“We know most of our customers by name – I think that is important,” said Mike Simmonite who together with wife Gemma runs gastrono-me.
So important that when they became concerned for an elderly customer they had not seen for a while Mike set off to track her down, knocking on a few doors before eventually finding her house.
“She had had a fall and been in hospital and then a nursing home. I asked if there was anything we could get her, and she asked for some of her favourite tarts. I found that really fulfilling,” said Mike.
The bakery and delicatessan in St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds, was runner up as independent of the year in the Bury Free Press business awards.
It has just celebrated its first birthday.
Mike and Gemma ran a stall on the Bury market for two years before progressing to their first shop.
“We already had two years of market research so it wasn’t so scary,” said Gemma.
“Pretty much everyone from the market has migrated to us.
“It is incredible the number of people who pop in and say we didn’t realise you were here. But it is really exciting because they are new customers.”
Ed Vivian and Jess Hanlon both started out as customers before joining the gastrono-me team. Jess is now assistant to head baker John Hannan while Oscar Covington-Cross completes the shop line-up.
Mike and Gemma are building up their wholesale business. They already supply fresh bread to Benson Blakes and Graze.
They pride the fact that they make everything themselves.
“All the bread is hand moulded. It’s slow dough, as basic and mediaeval bread making as you can get,” said Gemma.
“Our smoky bacon scotch eggs are a hit. I just can’t make them quick enough,” said Mike.
“It is important that people know what is going in their food so they can buy with confidence and I am able to tell them exactly what is going in because it has been made by our own hands.”
The shop recently added tables and chairs for people to sit in and eat.
Gemma used to make celebration cakes and eventually hopes to introduce it as another element of the business.
“We’d also like to introduce a grow for dough scheme where people bring in their excess produce which we can then use and in exchange we will pay them with a loaf or two,” she said.