The Irish Times Best artisan food/greengrocer
Best artisan food/greengrocer
WINNER: Ardkeen Quality Food Store
It’s hard to imagine a grocery store being able to survive in the shadow of giants such as Tesco and Lidl, but Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford is thriving. The second generation business run by brothers Kevin, Gerald and Colin Jephson, stocks mainly Irish gourmet foods, including a big selection of cheese, meat and wine. It’s been a go-to establishment since 1967, when Robert and Pamela Jephson opened its doors, and in the 1990s the family built a brand new shop, converting part of the old shop into a series of rooms that Suirsiders can use for pilates, get-togethers, counselling sessions and more. The city council installed a library so shoppers can borrow the latest Jo Nesbo while picking up their groceries.
The store’s overwhelming reader vote inpressed the judges. “It’s great to see a serious gourmet shop in Waterford tempting people to buy local home-grown brands. The fact that they can literally compete in the shadow of multi-national brands like Tesco (a quarter of a mile down the road) and Lidl (literally behind them) shows the strength of the offer,” says Simon Pratt, MD of Avoca.
Customer service is a big part of the focus, explains Colin Jephson.
“We don’t want shopping to be a chore. It needs to be an experience in a relaxing environment that customers will enjoy. The way our staff interact with them is a big part of that.”
One reader loves the Fiver Friday cheese bag, describing it as “an adult lucky bag of three new cheeses to help wind down the week; tomatoes grown just up the road that taste like tomatoes should, and Carmel in the off-licence who keeps back a bottle of something because she thinks I’ll like it”.