The big idea

HAN­NAH HOOTON, ca­ter­ing busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Delia’s Ca­nary Ca­ter­ing, on why there’s more than just foot­ball on of­fer at Car­row Road

EDP Norfolk - - Business -

Delia’s has been on the food map of Nor­folk for a good many years now; can you re­mind us how it all be­gan?

Delia Smith has al­ways had two great pas­sions in life – food and foot­ball. She joined the board of Nor­wich City FC in 1996, af­ter many many years of sup­port­ing the Ca­naries from the City Stand and de­cided to cre­ate a food of­fer that would serve the club bet­ter and hope­fully con­trib­ute to the club’s in­come in a way it hadn’t be­fore. It was a re­ally bold move when she launched Delia’s Restau­rant and Bar as The Brasserie back in 1999. At that point she was the best-known TV cook in the coun­try but she’d never de­vel­oped her pub­lic brand, as such, be­yond the books – and of course she out­sold all the oth­ers for years and years! But hav­ing her own restau­rant was a big step – in fact I don’t think any of the TV cooks had their own restau­rant – this was well be­fore Jamie launched his chain of eater­ies.

What is it that makes Delia’s spe­cial in a crowded mar­ket place?

Her! Purely and sim­ply, Delia is the dif­fer­ence. It’s her first and only flag­ship restau­rant and it’s her rep­u­ta­tion that brings peo­ple in. They know that she has high stan­dards and it’s the only place to eat her food cooked to those high stan­dards. She has weekly meet­ings with her team to en­sure that that con­sis­tency is main­tained through­out the year. She’s very par­tic­u­lar about the stan­dards of ser­vice too.

Also Delia is very in­volved – we pub­lish a list of our lo­cal sup­pli­ers on our web­site (www.delias­ca­naryca­ter­ing.co.uk). Delia’s al­ways been pas­sion­ate about this so en­cour­ages her chefs to go out and see the prod­uct wher­ever pos­si­ble. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to her to sup­port the lo­cal econ­omy – it’s just part of what she thinks is eth­i­cal. It’s like – we’re hav­ing this clas­si­cal mu­sic evening on 31 March and Delia asked if we could get the lo­cal mu­sic shop in­volved, in or­der to sup­port them. Com­mu­nity is a re­ally big thing for her, a re­ally big thing.

Free park­ing is also some­thing we of­fer which other city cen­tre venues can’t – and it’s ob­vi­ously a big plus in a largely ru­ral county like Nor­folk.

How do you make sure that your clients keep com­ing back?

Our ex­em­plary ser­vice. Any­one who knows Delia knows she has a very spe­cific way she wants guests to be greeted and made to feel com­fort­able. She wants our team to of­fer a warm and fa­mil­iar wel­come but also main­tain the high­est lev­els of pro­fes­sion­al­ism. It’s a very par­tic­u­lar thing but I think that, and the qual­ity of food we of­fer, is what makes us stand out. We guar­an­tee not just a good din­ner, or a good event, but we guar­an­tee a great ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s that whole pack­age that keeps peo­ple com­ing back for more.

How im­por­tant is Delia in Nor­wich City FC’s over­all busi­ness plan and why?

She IS the busi­ness plan. Delia her­self is in­te­gral to the suc­cess of both Delia’s and Yel­lows and the foot­ball club it­self, I would say. Peo­ple come to our events or buy things be­cause they love the club, but also be­cause they love Delia. She’s a pas­sion­ate sup­porter and a very pas­sion­ate cham­pion of the com­mu­nity. She’s al­ways the one push­ing com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. She com­mis­sioned an art­work of the let­ters NCFC, with each let­ter be­ing made up of dif­fer­ent parts of that com­mu­nity – the fans, the play­ers etc. And she says: “We need each of those let­ters. None of us is as smart as all of us.”

What’s the Big Idea for 2017?

In the past I think we’ve re­lied upon the club and fans as the mar­ket for our events, but we’re keen to reach out to new mar­kets and en­cour­age peo­ple to come along and give the ca­ter­ing at Delia’s and Yel­lows a try. We re­ally want to pull in peo­ple from all of the com­mu­nity – whether it’s for the Com­mu­nity Sports Foun­da­tion’s Jamie’s Game, our lunch with Café Rouge founder Karen Jones or our evening with Phil Tufnell on April 7. We’re just get­ting started. We don’t just do sports events and we want to do things to ap­peal to ev­ery de­mo­graphic in our lo­cal com­mu­nity. We’re al­ways happy to hear from our cus­tomers with their thoughts and sug­ges­tions too and are look­ing for­ward to a fab­u­lous year get­ting more and more peo­ple in­volved.

Han­nah Hooton, ca­ter­ing busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager for Nor­wich City FC

Delia Smith

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