Our celebration of Harrogate’s best independent businesses continues with a look at the town centre deli, Le Gourmet.
This family-run business has stood the test of time, with its range of sandwiches, ready meals and patisseries continuing to prove popular after 30 years. We think it has all the attributes of a great indie: a high-quality offering that’s a bit different to what you’d get elsewhere, a friendly and personal service, and a great attitude to working with local suppliers and other indies.
Eighteen months on from their relocation to the centre of Harrogate, we caught up with Le Gourmet’s owner Ben Mingam to find out more.
How it all began
Ben’s dad, Michel Mingam, launched Le Gourmet in 1986, drawing on his experience as a classically-trained French pastry chef to supply local hospitality businesses with a range of delicious tarts, patisseries and desserts.
Since the start, Michel has used locally-sourced produce wherever possible, ensuring that quality and provenance remain a key foundation for the business.
How the business developed
In 2006, the business moved to King’s Road in Harrogate, enabling it to sell directly to members of the public, while, at the same time, continue to supply local businesses. Alongside the patisseries and desserts, the shop sold Michel’s homemade ready meals, as well as a range of freshly made sandwiches and other lunchtime options.
In April last year, the business relocated to premises next to the town’s Victoria Shopping Centre. Despite the change of location, Le Gourmet’s offering remained the same, sticking to its 20-year recipe for success.
The last 18 months have seen Le Gourmet really establish itself in the town centre, as it continues to do what it does best.
The shop sells a range of delicious filled baguettes and focaccias made fresh every morning, toasted ham and cheese croissants, quiches, patés, soups, and their lunchtime best-seller, the Croque Monsieur.
Although no longer running the business, founder Michel continues to contribute his culinary expertise in the form of his French patisseries, tarts and desserts, which remain hugely popular with customers.
“Since the move, our weekday sandwich sales have doubled and 75 per cent of our business is repeat custom,” says Ben. “I think that’s because of the massive footfall here: Our shop is on a big cut-through in the centre of town.
“The patisseries always sell well at weekends, and the soups and Wot’s Cookin ready meals are a big hit during the winter months.”
The produce used by Le Gourmet still comes from local suppliers wherever possible, including fruit and vegetables from Regal Fruiterers, fish from Ramus, meat from Sykes House Farm, and dairy from JG Bellerby’s.
They also sell products from local indie businesses, such as brownies from Brown and Blond, Dumouchel artisan bread, pork pies and sausage rolls from Kendall’s butchers, coffee from North Star Roasters, and gourmet ready meals from Wot’s Cooking. And they work with other local indies, too, supplying tartlets, frittatas and quiches to Weeton’s deli, and puddings to Le D2 and the Italian Connection restaurants.
Ben adds: “We’re really pleased with how it’s going. Since the move, it’s been a case of figuring out what sells and what doesn’t, and responding to that.
“I think our success lies in the combination of being an indie but also the great food we offer.”
The likes of Greggs are located opposite le Gourmet and there are other high street chains close by, but Ben says: “I don’t worry too much about the national competition. I think we – like a lot of other indies – provide a certain quality that the chains don’t because we care more about what we’re doing, and we’re more invested in our business and our town.”
And as for the other independent businesses, Ben says: “I think Harrogate has a great indie community and we all support each other. If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for here, I’ll recommend they try one of the other indies.”
What lies ahead?
“I’m sourcing new products all the time,” says Ben.
“We’re looking to do more on the deli side, and I’m hoping to find some local independent suppliers for things like preserves and chutneys.”
The outdoor seating area was also a big hit this summer, so Ben is hoping to expand on that next year.
He adds: “We’ll just keep going as we’re going. Not doing anything massively different, just doing more of it.”
To find out more about Le Gourmet, click here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.