Family business Macknade is a Kentish foodie institution and one of the county’s greatest success stories. Here we speak with sixth generation Managing Director Stefano Cuomo about Macknade’s past, present and future…
eading growers, nationally renowned for its hard fruit, hops and livestock.
In more recent times, and in response to a changing food landscape, my parents, Renato and Patricia, focused on building our retail business, which started as a small pick-your-own farm shop in 1979.
This has grown dramatically, and just last year we celebrated our 40th year of retail with a big birthday bash for our customers, suppliers and staff. Today we are a team of over 120 people working across our evolving Faversham Food Hall, our exciting new store and restaurant in Ashford, and our growing delivery channels.
Tell us about Macknade today.
Macknade has friends and family at its core. We believe in creating favourite places and moments that make people feel cared for and loved – whether that’s in our stores or at home cooking up a storm with delicious ingredients that have been delivered direct to their door. We do all of this with environmental and social harmony at the centre of our decision-making.
Today, we have two stores in Kent – our Faversham Food Hall, at the heart of our original farm site, and Elwick Place in Ashford, which opened earlier this year on the site of the old cattle market, in the centre of town. Both offer a wide selection of food, drink and homewares that have been carefully sourced by our team, from our butchery to our delicatessen counters, our wine store and our florist, as well as fantastic dining options to stay and enjoy on-site (outside of lockdowns!) or to takeaway.
We are also now able to deliver the magic of Macknade to people’s doors, with hampers and gift boxes available to order online for nationwide delivery, and a local grocery delivery service in the East Kent area for those who feel more comfortable staying at home.
Tell us a bit more about your Ashford venture.
It is an amazing site that was created as the perfect space for all day dining – from breakfast through to lunch, supper, drinks and beyond. There are several different counters offering a variety of foods, so it has an eclectic, market feel all under one Macknade roof.
As well as being able to dine in (pre-lockdown, of course!), we have a delicatessen counter and grocery shop, so you can come in and source the wonderful ingredients our chefs use to take home with you.
Our opening team have done a stellar job of navigating this strange Covid-19 landscape and we have pivoted to concentrate on retail throughout November; also offering hot drinks and home-cooked dishes from our kitchen to takeaway.
What’s coming up this Christmas?
Christmas is an amazing time for us. Whilst we won’t expect the same hustle and bustle of previous years, we are making sure customers will still have a memorable experience with us, with extra safety precautions in place at both locations and a comprehensive pre-order service available that features all our festive bestsellers. You can place an order online or pick up a Christmas order form in-store.
We also have Kentish Christmas trees for sale again – this year at both stores – with 5% of all sales being donated to Pilgrims Hospices, a charity we are huge supporters of. Both stores are packed full of wonderful festive produce, and you can pick up gifts and stocking fillers whilst doing your essential shop.
What’s on the horizon for Macknade?
Lots… There is never a dull moment at Macknade! We are expanding our Ashford store, which will see it almost double in size to accommodate more groceries, an extensive range of wines and additional space for diners. Work is already underway, and we plan to complete this within the next few months.
We already have a safe, open-plan seating area for diners to comfortably enjoy a bite to eat with plenty of space between tables, and this development will allow us to offer more seating, while still keeping it open, airy and Covid-safe.
For more information, visit macknade.com