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Pandemic no barrier for family-run deli

By Micaela Togher

Few people can say they opened a deli at the height of a global pandemic. But for Gourmet Deli House owner Mathew Christofe, it was a challenge he was willing to accept.

“It was hard, but it was exciting as well – it was the unknown that was difficult and exciting at the same time,” he said.

Opening in The District Docklands’ Market Lane nine months ago, Gourmet Deli House is owned and operated by Mathew, his sister Andrea and their parents Charlie and Toulla, who was born in Cyprus.

Mr Christofe told Docklands News he believed it was a strong family influence that set the Deli apart and emphasised the rich history behind the products they provided.

“We do a lot of the marinades ourselves – there are a lot of European-inspired dishes as well,” he said.

“We use a lot of olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs and everything is done in store. We do our own dips, ready-made meals like pastas and cabbage rolls – that’s sort of our point of difference because that’s all done here daily.”

Despite opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the Docklands store had been in the works for some time. Gourmet Deli House began almost seven years ago with its first location in Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong.

Mr Christofe credited it as being one of the reasons the family never considered abandoning plans for the second location.

“We never considered giving up on it, we were always happy to go ahead and give it a go. It was like a rollercoaster ride,” he said.

While things haven’t always been easy over the past nine months, Mr Christofe takes it all in his stride.

“It did get quiet at one stage, but it’s starting to pick back up now. We’re hoping with the offices people will be returning to work things will keep getting busier,” he said.

He said there was one simple reason that Gourmet Deli House had continued to grow despite the many obstacles faced.

“We are different to a regular deli – we do things in smaller batches and more regularly, it keeps everything fresher,” he said.

“It’s a small family business and we take pride in what we do, we value our customers. It’s a passion of ours – all the owners are very involved in it.”

Boasting a wide array of international and local cheeses, smallgoods and continental groceries, the deli also has its own butcher to naturally smoke the meats sold.

Gourmet Deli House is open seven days a week in Market Lane at The District Docklands from 9am to 5.30pm •

You can find them on Instagram @gourmetdelihouse

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