Neil and Rosie Dugard were both made redundant last year. Rosie found out the day after she gave birth to their second daughter, but it didn’t take long for the couple to see it as their opportunity to realise an ambition. And so, after a year of preparations, they are only a week away from opening their doors as Dugard & Daughters.
The Dugards refer to their enterprise as a butchers and a larder. Aside from stocking English rare breed meats (mainly from small farms) they will also sell groceries, chilled dairy produce and a variety of other goods such as drinks, olives and other useful culinary products.
Their space, under the railway arches of Herne Hill, is large (1000 square ft). The meat will be fresh – they certainly won’t own a freezer, they tell me. But one thing they are excited about taking delivery of is a dry ageing chiller. You can order your hung steak in advance, anything up to seventy days. ‘But you’ll have to wait for that,’ jokes Rosie.
Neil and Rosie are keen to fit in around other traders. Whilst they will be offering a range of organic vegetables and salad, for example, stock is being carefully chosen to compliment the existing greengrocer’s produce on the other side of the railway line.
As Brixton residents themselves, they are keen to work with other local independents to take on Sainsbury’s and the new Tesco, by giving people even more choice. They understand that to do this though, they need to open late. As a consequence Dugard & Daughters will open from morning until 8 p.m.
‘You have to recognise that most people are only able to grab something on the way home from work,’ Neil explained. ‘No matter how good it is, you don’t want to carry a joint of meat around in your bag all day.’
It does stand to reason that the convenience of a supermarket’s opening hours is one of their key attractions. Neil and Rosie understand this more than most – they used to manage them.
Before setting up Dugard & Daughters Neil worked at Planet Organic and then Budgens. That’s where he met Rosie. And whilst they both know a lot about meat, neither of them are trained butchers. That is why they have employed the skills of a master butcher, who previously opened Natural Kitchen on Marylebone High Street.
So, the Dugards are hoping to give the people of Herne Hill even more reason to celebrate the unique identity of the area. Situated under the railway arches at the rear of Herne Hill Station, they are due to open their doors on 6th November.
So what’s with the name, I ask them finally. ‘It’s just a play on the fact that most butchers names are traditionally masculine – always Something and Sons.’ Neil and Rosie have two daughters. ‘It just felt right and a bit of fun,’ Neil said.
Follow them on twitter: @dugarddaughters