Stratford café owners who served Dame Judi Dench bow out after 21 years
IT was a misty-eyed moment when Guy and Jean Haslam of the Deli Cafe in Stratford served their last cuppa and said "farewell" to loyal customers last Tuesday having run the popular Meer Street venue for the last 21 years.
The cafe's much-loved All Day Breakfasts and pots of tea were favourites with some of the big names on stage and television, including Sir Patrick Stewart, Dame Judi Dench, Griff Rhys Jones and Gyles Brandreth who were regulars at the cafe and - just like all customers - they were given a warm welcome.
The last day in charge for the husband and wife pair from Bishopton came about after they made the difficult but important decision to end their time as proprietors on health grounds and because it felt right to finish on the last day of August with the Bank Holiday at an end.
"We've had some customers coming here for over 20 years and they're like friends to us," Jean, tearfully told the Herald and added that the memories had caused her "make-up to run."
"We had a really nice time with the RSC actors but we never disturbed them and I never asked for an autograph, we just left them alone. Our customers loved the cottage pie, the quiche and a proper cup of tea in a pot, cake was also popular but it was our breakfasts that proved the all time best seller," Jean said.
She started at the Deli Cafe as a waitress after a career in nursing. She had applied for a job as a cook at the cafe but the post was taken so she began waitressing, working 16 hours a week to get her, "out of the house." This became 37 hours the following week and the recipe for a happy life cooking and serving the public was set for the next 21 years.
"I once said to the then owner - Eddie Ward - if he ever thought about selling the business, I'd buy it and that's what happened. It will be sad because we've made lots of friends and we'd like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts but time is time and we had to make the decision to retire," said Jean.
Guy and Jean intend to stay in Stratford and think about their future plans in a short while.