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HomeBusinessMagic at Portadown’s Yellow Door as top chef opens exciting new chapter

Magic at Portadown’s Yellow Door as top chef opens exciting new chapter

Portadown’s popular Yellow Door café and food shop has been transformed into a unique deli market by Simon Dougan, its owner and one of Ireland’s most distinguished chefs.

In addition to the Portadown deli market, Simon runs a hugely successful outdoor catering business which is responsible for the food at prestigious establishments such as Hillsborough Castle and the Ulster Museum.

The new Deli Market by Yellow Door opened at the weekend and features Yellow Doors’ own dishes and snacks, hundreds of products from dozens of local food and soft drink suppliers and fresh vegetables.

The distinguished chef, renowned for creative dishes using mostly local ingredients, has seen his hugely successful catering business for major corporate clients and events, such as weddings, as well as the popular café in Portadown, which all trade under the Yellow Door brand, badly hit by the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

Simon’s catering expertise, management skills and dedicated support for the local food and drink industry – which includes enthusiastic backing for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon’s imaginative Food Heartland scheme to promote local food and drink companies, as well as Food NI – led to deserved recognition in the shape of an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2017.

Simon says: “Like everyone in events and hospitality, our business has been fairly decimated and it has been exhausting rethinking and reinventing our operation with each new lockdown.

“It would be easy to crumble under such consistent pressure, but it’s also a time to be grateful for our strengths,” he says.

These strengths, he continues, include “an amazing team of people which we are thankful to be able to support through the furlough scheme.”

“We have very supportive customers and clients. Fortunately, we are in a strong position financially and our business has a solid sustainable ethos which we have been working on for many years.

“We have also had a record amount of hamper orders this year, as companies decide to support local.

“In turn this helps us support our network of artisan producers,” he adds.

Building on these strengths and underlying optimism, the Yellow Door Deli in Portadown has undergone a refurbishment and reorganisation over the past number of weeks and rebranded as ‘Deli Market by Yellow Door’.

Simon explains: “Our deli model and physical structure wasn’t that adaptable in terms of flow or offering take-away so we had a rethink.

“To help future-proof the business, we have removed more of the tables and chairs in the middle part of the café to create greater retail space.

“We’ve implemented social distancing and other measures, of course, to ensure the safety of customers and employees, a priority for our business.

“As well as our usual offering of artisan food products, we have expanded this range to include a greater range of new suppliers and are selling fresh, local fruit and seasonal vegetables.

“Our head chef Stephen Dowds and the kitchen team have designed a range of pre-packed chilled take home food such as the family pies and the soups we are famous for, Thai curry and calorie counted dishes.

“Everything is made fresh from scratch as has always been the case with us,” explains Simon.

The impressive selection also includes salad leaves, fruit and herbs from the company’s own kitchen garden as they become available in season.

“As we make everything in-house, we will be able to use un-sold fresh produce in our dishes so that we don’t have any waste,” says Simon.

“There will be free range eggs, local cheeses and charcuterie, and our own sweet cured traditional dry-cured bacon for customers to buy to take home.

“We have also developed and expanded our range of desserts and puddings as well as new flavoured sourdough breads from our own Real Bread bakery,”

he continues.

The company’s long-standing focus on sustainability is also seen in all of its packaging, which is 100 perent compostable or recyclable.

“Combined with our overall environmental and food sourcing policies, we believe we are one of the most sustainable companies out there,” he says.

“We think it is right to show our confidence in the future of our business and the wider economy in Portadown and beyond.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear from research that people here want to have alternative shopping experiences and are now keen to buy more from trusted local suppliers.

“We are confident that our new, rustic botanical theme and enhanced range of local dishes and products available in the deli will appeal to even more shoppers,” adds Simon.

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