Lutterworth cafe boss reinvents himself as deli dynamo

It didn’t take Lutterworth shopkeeper Steve Lane long to wake up and smell the coffee when the devastating Covid-19 lockdown was imposed back in March

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 10:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 10:10 am
Steve in the shop.

Even though it broke his heart, Steve, 46, quickly decided that he had to close his booming café down and focus purely on food – brilliant, top-quality food.

And the brave businessman’s bold gambit is now starting to pay off as his shop, Lanes Deli and Fine Foods, cooks up a reputation all over the Lutterworth area for mouth-watering produce.

Steve, who’s based on Lutterworth High Street, told the Harborough Mail: “I’m a natural-born pessimist so my glass is always half-empty but all being well we are starting to come back again after a very hard year.

The exterior of the shop.

“None of us knows what lies ahead but I do know that I will give it all my absolute all in a bid to make my deli work and succeed.

“We want to be sat here right on the High Street in this fantastic town for a long time to come.”

The dad-of-three said he set up his dream venture, feted as the only independent deli and greengrocers in Lutterworth, in February 2018.

“I was working as a transport manager for a coach company in Buckinghamshire, where I come from.

“So I had no experience of working in retail but I’d always wanted to give it a darned good go.

“We were living in Northamptonshire at the time.

“But my wife Libby, 40, is a music teacher and hails from Leicestershire,” said Steve.

“So we decided to move across here to Ashby Magna and open up the shop in Lutterworth.

“We launched as a deli and a café before predominantly growing into a café doing food.

“We soon grew to 21 seats and people from all over the area were loving coming to us for a coffee and a natter.

“But then Covid-19 hit us all like a ton of bricks back in the spring and we were looking at re-opening with just eight seats due to social distancing.

“We were getting by all right with 21 customers but slashing that to eight or so wasn’t going to cut it.

“So I knew pretty quickly I was going to have to reinvent the whole business – and fast too,” said Steve.

“It was a very tough day when we closed the café back on Saturday March 21.

“There were a lot of tears with my young Saturday staff.

“We obviously didn’t know what was coming or what lay around the corner.

“We were shut for a week.

“Then, largely through our Facebook page, we started to do home deliveries to keen customers all over the patch.

“Meats, breads, cheeses – and we set up a new wine club that has proved a massive success!

“We actually re-opened the shop on Thursday July 9.

“We are selling potatoes, brassicas and salads.

“I source as much produce as I can locally, supporting local growers and suppliers.

“I have totally adapted our shop and diversified – it’s the only way that we can survive and go forward.

“I’m the only business here in the town who’s so drastically changed their business model.

“It was adapt and move on or go down.

“We sell a range of cracking cheeses, which I get from a Melton Mowbray supplier who lives near me.

“We specialise in homemade lasagne, pastas, sauces, soups and beautiful fresh bread,” said the pumped-up entrepreneur.

“Our takeaway menu is going well and we’ve roared back fighting.

“We have a loyal army of followers and fans in Lutterworth.

“And we say a big thank you to each and every one of them for their amazing constant support.

“Shopping locally isn’t just important – it’s absolutely critical.

“People are disappointed that our café is closed – but we do hope to re-open it down the line as the situation improves.

“I buy in some excellent food from the Just So Italian deli on Adam and Eve Street in Market Harborough.

“And I’d also like to highlight Two Birds in Market Harborough, who provide us with the best gin and tonic.

“I am very happy to have taken the plunge and set up our shop here in Lutterworth back in 2018 – even though none of us could have forecast the coronavirus coming along.

“But I’m determined to give it my best shot and to work all the hours I need to to make sure that we are here serving local people with the best food we can for many years ahead.”

You can find out more about Lanes Deli and Fine Foods by visiting their Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/Lanesdeli/