There’s a gastronomic advance in Appleby this week as former HSBC Bank takes on a culinary direction, opening on Tuesday (25th August) as Low Howgill Butchers & Deli.
Husband and wife team Steve and Jennie Allison took over the bank lease just nine weeks ago, reconfiguring the interior to create a traditional butcher’s with a contemporary twist. As well as showcasing meat from the family farm and other local producers, there are pies and pasties freshly baked by Jennie, and a mouth-watering larder of locally sourced provisions. It is the first store of its kind in Appleby and is set to become a destination shop for locals and visitors to Eden.
The launch of Low Howgill Butchers & Deli has been a family affair, so quite appropriately, three generations of the family marked the occasion at the official cutting of the pie.
It is five years since Jennie’s parents Jane and John Taylor began selling meat from their Low Howgill farm. Trading as Low Howgill Traditional Meats, they wanted to offer consumers traditional British breeds of beef and lamb, home grown on their farm. Demand for ‘quality meat with provenance’ grew and from 2012 the family began attending farmers markets. In 2013 Jennies husband Steve joined the company as full time butcher – learning from his father who ran his own butchers shop in the North East. Steve soon made his mark, creating seasonal sausages with a twist and earning him national recognition when the Low Howgill brand won three awards at the 2014 British Sausage Week competition.
Whilst keen to continue supporting local markets, Steve and Jennie had an appetite to grown and were keen to find a permanent retail base. The bank in the middle of Appleby was the perfect location and, for the first time, they are now able to work together as butcher and baker from one location, opening to the public six days a week.
Now a modern retail business, Low Howgill took the opportunity to rebrand, changing their name from Low Howgill Traditional Meats, to Low Howgill Butchers & Deli. Alongside a name change came brand redevelopment, creating a more modern look, one that combines elements of a butchers and a baker in keeping with the new shop – the new logo includes the silhouette of traditional British breeds and a blade of wheat.
It’s been a busy summer for the Low Howgill team. As well as developing the look and feel for the shop and sourcing interesting local produce, they’ve continued supplying the best of British meat and pies to local restaurants and customers at the markets, managed to fit catering for a family wedding and looking after daughter Melita.
Steve and Jennie Allison said “Local sourcing is a very important part of our ethos – it goes beyond home rearing our beef and lamb, or finding local chutney, it means wherever possible, we use a local workforce to design and build our shop. We think the whole process has been made easier because local connections work, they all came together, communicated and brought a pile of good will. Everyone has been keen for us to succeed and we have had tonnes of encouragement from suppliers and local residents – especially those who have been watching the countdown pies in the window!”
Both Steve and Jennie recognise the short timescale would not have been possible without the help and support from both families, from the team of local contractors and from Jane Sanderson, Designer and Project Manager. As a thank you, they hosted a preview night for those who helped get the shop ready to open on time. Jennie said “It was a great opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labour! They got to sample pies and see our new ranges stacked on the shelves including jams and chutneys from ‘Handmade by Sarah’, marinated olives from Silver & Green at Penrith, cakes and shortbread from ‘Bex’s Buns’ in Tebay.”
With plenty of room for dry goods, meat preparation and cold storage, Steve has the luxury of being able to leave the meat hanging in storage on the farm until needed. Steve said “In the past we’ve been working towards farmers market and wholesale deadlines, we’ve had to refocus to make sure we have a continuous supply of meat and sausages on the counter every day. It’s a very exciting time and we’ve been lucky to recruit a great team of staff to support us.”
From a team of two, with occasional help from parents, the Low Howgill Butchers & Deli now has a team of nine to call on: Steve and Jennie are the Master Butcher and Baker, with John Allison (Steve’s Dad) as part time Butcher and Max Robinson as a full time Production and Counter Assistant. Becka Simpson, Rosie Stephenson and Linda Taylor are permanent part time staff, with students Owen Dodgson and Joanne Harrison working weekends and holidays. They’re all local, and most have a farming connection which brings with it a better understanding of the food provenance and heritage.
As well as running the shop in Appleby, Steve and Jennie will still continue with their stalls at Keswick Market every Thursday, Penrith Farmer Market the 3rd Tuesday of the month and Kirkoswold Farmers Market the 3rd Saturday of every month. For details about the shop, please contact Jennie Allison at the shop on 017683 51644 or see www.facebook.com/LowHowgillButchers or visit the website www.low-howgill.co.uk