On the day before their post-lockdown official opening, we had the chance to sit down and speak with Matt Voysey, co-owner (along with his wife Hilary) of Westbourne’s brand new ‘decadent and sumptuous’ deli, Delish Deli…
The story began after Matt and Hilary met on a flight to Delhi while working as cabin crew for the airlines back in 2006. Their love story grew from there, along with their dream of starting their own business. As the aviation industry has struggled amidst the twists and turns of the global pandemic, Matt and Hilary Voysey have taken the brave leap into business ownership and made their dream come true. With over 25 years’ experience in the aviation industry, they bring their love of entertaining, combined with unrivalled knowledge of first-class products and service to make a visit to Delish Deli unmissable to anyone travelling to Westbourne.
It was back in 2008, when Matt and Hilary welcomed their daughter Tallulah into the world, that the original idea was born. During Hilary’s maternity leave, they noticed there weren’t many places where you could take your baby, enjoy a coffee, and spend time together as a family. They started exploring the idea of a soft play, coffee shop, kids entertainment-type area, and the idea grew from there.
It was the unexpected upheaval of 2020 that gave them the final push to get their dream of business ownership off the ground. While on furlough, and witnessing what was happening to the aviation industry, Matt and Hilary finally had a chance to reflect on what they truly wanted.
“I was spending so much time at home with Tallulah and Hilary, and it was the first time in my career, in the whole 25 years, that I suddenly realised I didn’t miss it,” explained Matt. “It was a real revelation to me. I absolutely loved my time in the industry but being at home is more important.”
FROM A JUMBO JET TO A DELI
With the support of family and friends Matt and Hilary finally decided it was now or never. And as one of Matt’s friends shared, “There’s never a good time to open up a business. If you’re going to do it, you just have to take the leap.”
The global pandemic continued to unfold and the aviation industry unravelled with it. Meanwhile, Matt and Hilary listened carefully to the advice of friends and family, who offered words of support and cheered them on from the sidelines. Matt shared that they “encouraged us to think long and hard about it, so we did. I took the risk and pressed the button!”
Matt took voluntary redundancy from the airline after 25 years in the industry. And it was at this point that the hard work began. Matt and Hilary wanted to make their coffee shop a real showstopper, and employed the help of their friend Fiona, who works in interior design, to help get the project off the ground. The brief revolved around a “proper destination coffee shop. A sumptuous, New York-style, 1920s art deco-type place”. And they began exploring how they could make Delish Deli stand out from the other coffee shops in Westbourne.
“That’s how the deli element came into it. We gave Fiona the brief; she came back with a mood board and it started to take off from there. We wanted to use the airline service, train our staff up and give our customers that extra special something.”
SUPPORTING EACH OTHER FROM LAND AND SKY
Delish Deli launched with a soft opening three weeks ago, and has grown from strength to strength despite the national lockdown. Matt described the opening day as, “an absolute whirlwind. Absolutely petrifying!” However, he acknowledges that lockdown gave them more time to adjust to their new venture. To get their staff trained up and ease into things.
People have been relentless in their support, and Matt and Hilary have found support from the local community overwhelming. Matt commented that customers have been endlessly impressed with the wide array of products available to buy at the deli. Everything ranging from pickles through to full-blown Christmas hampers.
One of the most humbling things about this is that many of these products come from former colleagues within the aviation industry. People who, like Hilary and Matt, have started exploring their own ventures after this unprecedented year of change.
“Someone else who took voluntary redundancy from the airline started up a candle company. Another one started a side hustle selling pickles. So we said we would support them too. We want to support as many people as possible. This is why we have candles at one end of the shop, and pickles at the other end!”
Matt explained it was his former colleagues, Paul and Jo, who owned Gemma Shoe Shop next door, who called them when the shop first became vacant and encouraged them to go for it. Now they have a unified shop front, to ultimately give them a bigger presence on the high street. A perfect example of teamwork. Matt proudly explained, “Our colleagues in the aviation industry have been a huge source of inspiration to us. We all support each other.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
People are at the heart of everything that makes Delish Deli so special. When asked about his best moments so far, Matt said without hesitation:
“The customers have been fabulous. We’re so proud that we seemed to have filled a gap for something that didn’t exist in Westbourne.”
Their airline experience is another standout factor. They’ve woven many elements of their training into their business operation. Matt commented on how learning to work and cook in small areas has been hugely beneficial as he navigates his new work environment. However, the biggest difference has actually been the customers they meet:
“It’s a different world!” Matt revealed. “The airline I used to work for was primarily people going away on business. There was always a sense of urgency; everything needed to be done quickly. Especially when you’re working in the premium and first class cabins.”
It’s been a huge learning curve. They’ve had significant help from their team in learning how to adapt to the different pace and different customers. Humility and appreciation embodied Matt’s words as he shared.
“One of my staff, Angie, said to me, ‘Matt, you’re not on an aircraft anymore. People aren’t expecting this food to be out of here in 30 seconds. You have to take your time!’”
Learning from their staff and embracing their new work environment have been a real highlight for Matt and Hilary. Matt described the team as “absolutely sensational to work with, and so supportive of what we are doing”.
The other thing that makes Delish Deli so special is the delicious food. With a long-existing penchant for cooking, Matt was able to masterfully craft the menu using a mix of tricks of the trade the airline taught him. Alongside inspiration from his own love of good food. Their signature sandwich, “The Westbourner”, has been a long-time hit amongst their friends and family and is described as, “the pride of the deli counter.”
“What makes it sensational is that the first time you cut it in half and open it up, it looks absolutely fabulous. We experimented with it, had a play with the ingredients, and decided it was something that really had to go on the deli.”
Wraps, sandwiches both fresh and toasted, and many more delicious treats all await at Delish Deli. As well as Matt’s signature salad. He has made the salad for years at dinner parties:
“Everyone goes potty for it. People used to request it. Now they come in and say: I can’t believe I have to pay for what I used to get for free at your house!”
So that’s where the inspiration came from. Everything you will find in Delish Deli are products that Matt and Hilary love. Some are brand-new and some have been created over a lifetime of love and an appreciation for great food. It’s an ever-evolving menu and customers are in for a real treat.
FIRST CLASS ALL THE WAY
When asked for his thoughts on where he sees Delish Deli in a year, Matt presented a simple, profound vision. The limitations of COVID-19 will be gone, and life will be a little easier for everyone. He imagines his regular customers popping in to say hello. And people being able to hug their family and friends once more. Finally, he sees his customers enjoying the sumptuous, cosy atmosphere of Delish Deli as they talk, laugh and spend time together enjoying great food. For both Matt and Hilary, it’s the simple things that really matter.
They are also exploring events and evening entertainment. Matt happily shared that bottomless brunch, bottomless cheese, and bottomless afternoon tea are all on the cards, along with their liquor licence too. Once they have this, Westbourners are in for a real treat! In true first-class style, Hilary will be whizzing around with her aircraft trolley, legitimately from the airline, serving drinks to all the regulars.
With plenty of ideas on the horizon, from more hampers to more deli-coffee shops, there is no doubt that a first-class experience is guaranteed to anyone visiting Delish Deli. There are some big things to come from Matt, Hilary and their amazing team, and we are excited to watch their success grow.
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