'Sense of community' saves famed smokehouse near Harrogate during lockdown

A renowned smokehouse and deli outside Harrogate which had "the wind taken out of its sails" by the Covid-19 lockdown says it's being sustained by a new sense of community.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 5:47 pm
Husband and wife team Gabby and Paul Palmer at Mackenzies not far from Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs.

Husband and wife team Gabby and Paul Palmer had only taken over Mackenzies, located not far from Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs, a year ago.

In fact, they had been in the middle of a make over to transform the smokehouse, restaurant and café, which has been famed for the last 20 years for its fresh local produce from the Dales, when the coronavirus emergency struck the nation.

The couple said there had been dark moments at their independent business near Blubberhouses but, once they came to terms with the fact that food shopping as we knew it had changed, they hadn't looked back.

Gabby Palmer said: "Having only taken over the business at the end of last year, the situation initially took the wind out of our sails.

"Like most businesses, we were thrown into a situation where guidelines and advice were changing daily and the ground under us seemed to shift."

"But we decided to look forward and be positive through these difficult times - rather than dwell on the insecurity and uncertainty and responded quickly to the constantly changing measures and guidelines."

The couple quickly built a brand new website and within a week nearly all its quality local produce from including its butchers counter, fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy,as well as larder essentials like flour and pasta were uploaded and ready to buy online.

Mackenzie’s team is now working hard to keep the community safe and healthy with a home delivery service

Paul Palmer said: "If I had to choose what has had the biggest impact on us over the last few weeks, it wouldn’t be the fear or the uncertainty, although there have been some dark moments, it would be the new sense of community that has prevailed.

"There seems to be an increased appetite to support local – which we are so very grateful for.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support from our customers who continue to visit and buy online.

"We’ve had fantastic support on social media and emails and letters of thanks, too, which is humbling.

"Our wonderful staff have worked so incredibly hard in ever changing circumstances, in some cases doing jobs that are far removed from the pre-corona days. We’ve simply been blown away at the way they have all supported us."

The Mackenzies shop remains open to those customers who are not isolated at home with stringent measures in place to protect staff and customers from the risk of infection, including hand sanitiser and spacing guidance at the tills.

Gabby Palmer said: "Our shop is normally manned by two to three staff refilling shelves and manning the till, but our new model of working since the lockdown has meant putting together orders manually, running out to car boots and taking in daily deliveries and two people just wasn’t enough!

"Luckily, as our café had to be closed, we were able to redeploy our café staff, who with much positivity have all slotted into these new roles. "

Mackenzies is open seven days a week, from 9am to 5pm.

For more information on how to order online, visit www.mackenziesyorkshirefarmshop.co.uk

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