It's good to be back, says fire-hit deli owner
A DELICATESSEN shop which was forced to close after being damaged when part of Dartmouth's historical centre went up in flames has reopened.
The Smith Street Deli has opened its doors once more two years after the huge blaze destroyed large parts of Fairfax Place.
Now shop owners Simon Entwistle, who owns the Deli with wife Marcelle Chownes-Dove, have asked the very last customer of two years ago, to do the honours.
Pat Smith, a regular customer for eight years before the fateful day of May 28, 2010, and Simon were asked to leave by firemen concerned for their safety.
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She said: "We thought it was fine to continue with my purchase when we were told there was a fire next door.
"I picked up all my purchases and we were chatting away. Then we realised there were some firemen at the door urgently asking us to leave.
"I'm thrilled that after all they have been through, Simon and Marcelle are back home, with everything ready to go. It's wonderful for the town of Dartmouth to see the buildings coming back into use and it's great to have the deli back."
After two years and two weeks of stress and worry since the fire, which destroyed a block of buildings and five businesses, Simon said it was wonderful to be back in the shop, and perfect to have Pat there to open it.
He said: "It was such a strange day, and doing a purchase with Pat as the firemen came in and smoke billowed outside was a big part of that.
"We always said we'd ask her to open the shop when we finally got back through the door, and it was brilliant to have her there to cut the ribbon. Time has gone so fast. We can scarcely believe it's been two years."
Following the blaze, Simon set up a small deli in Anzac Street Bistro with friend Serin Aubrey. The two have worked so well together Serin has been instrumental in the preparations for the deli's re-opening. Simon said they hoped to work together again in the future.
During this extended break from their old trading set-up, Simon decided to make a radical change of style. He realised the fire was an opportunity to put in place everything he has learnt from 10 years in retail and improve his customers' shopping experience.
He said: "The fire, although an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, has given us the opportunity to create something new and exciting.
"We now have the best of what we had before with some new ideas.
"We are back home and it's such a good feeling to finally be open and serving customers again."
For more information on the deli visit www.smithstreetdeli.co.uk or call 01803 833616.