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Meet the Sisters Who Run an Independent Deli Together in Northumberland

Deli window and homebred food from 14 Stanley Street Deli, Blyth
Eat and Drink
April 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

These sisters are doing it for themselves

Living North catches up with Vicky Riley, Sarah Riley and Lucy Harland, three sisters who bet on themselves and opened up the independent deli 14 Stanley Street in Blyth.
catered food in boxes

Although only a short drive north of the bustling hubs of Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth, the Northumberland coastal town of Blyth is not always the first place you think of when searching for sweet treats and local delicacies. But the tide is starting to turn and independent deli 14 Stanley Street is one of the businesses leading the way. Just before Covid, three sisters came together from very different lives to make 14 Stanley Street a reality.

‘Vicky had been living in South Africa before we started. She’d been working for a charity out there and wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do when she came back,’ Sarah explains. Sarah herself was a freelance artist who had grown frustrated with the increasingly difficult and uncertain industry that she was a part of and similarly longed for a change. ‘Lucy, our other sister, is a barrister, and she said “I would like to invest in you both – you’re going to be good at doing something”.’ A self-confessed ‘foodie family’, the sisters decided on a deli after Lucy had admitted to always wanting one.

The task then began to find a suitable property. ‘We started looking at properties and the idea was to do one up because Vicky loves doing that – it’s her thing. We went looking around and we only had so much money. Blyth seemed quite a good choice as there was quite a lot on offer that was reasonably priced,’ Sarah says. ‘We went to look and quite a few came up in auctions. We bid on some and nothing happened – we just kept missing them. Then we finally got this one at auction at a good price, but it needed a heck of a lot of work doing to it so Vicky got to it. It was an opticians but it hadn’t been touched for around 60 years or so.’

The renovations which took place were documented on the Facebook and Instagram pages of 14 Stanley Street, gearing up for the grand opening. ‘We spent a lot of that time renovating it ourselves – then we opened during Covid in December 2020,’ says Sarah. It would be easy to assume there couldn’t have been a worse time to open, but Sarah looks on the bright side. ‘People weren’t supposed to be going out to restaurants but food places were allowed to be open if you remember,’ she recalls. ‘People were shopping more locally and so, because it was Christmas, we ended up selling loads of hampers and sending them off to people in other parts of the country.’ 

Since opening, the deli has gone from strength to strength, with the sisters realising that their homemade goods are in higher demand than they expected. ‘We thought we’d just stock Northumberland produce and things like that but then we started baking our own cakes and it has just grown. We started doing soups and then realised we were selling more of what we were making [than the stocked produce],’ Sarah says. ‘Blyth doesn’t have much like this on offer so now we get a lot of lunchtime trade and local businesses coming in – our menu is growing all the time. And we started doing outside catering which is great. The chief executive of the Port of Blyth was the first one to ask us, so we do their board meetings every couple of months. Then we’ve got other companies like ORE Catapult and Woodhorn Museum too.’

This success shouldn’t come as a surprise, with the business offering homemade sweet and savoury treats including spinach and feta filo pie (my personal favourite), goats’ cheese and onion tarts, pear and almond cake, pork and haggis sausage rolls – the list goes on. The sisters attribute their repertoire of recipes to their late mum and their own active imaginations, as they take well-known recipes and see how they can make them their own. ‘What goes with dark chocolate? Cherries. What do you have with milk chocolate? Orange,’ Sarah says, explaining their free-flowing process.

‘Blyth doesn’t have much like this on offer so now we get a lot of lunchtime trade and local businesses coming in – our menu is growing all the time’
Deli produce from Notherumberland | Food Hamper in Wicker Basket | Northumberland cheeses with a baguette

Right in the heart of Blyth, the deli has become a focal point for locals and, as we’re speaking, one of 14 Stanley Street’s regulars (introduced only as Number 40) walks in. ‘We’ve got a real core of local followers actually and Number 40 is in nearly every day,’ Vicky says. ‘He’s called Number 40 because he lives at 40 Stanley Street. He came in saying that people keep knocking at his door asking for sausage rolls.’

Although some people may have opted for a more well-known coastal town, the sisters had few reservations about setting up shop in Blyth and can again point out the upside. ‘There are so many other places like this in places like Whitley Bay, and in a way that’s more competition,’ Sarah says. She points out that developments are now under way in Blyth to give the town a boost, including a reinstated train line and a new education centre.

The future certainly looks bright for 14 Stanley Street, who are focused firmly on building on their success.

homebred cakes on stands
salad bowls and filo tart

What could you not do without?
We couldn’t do without Number 40 and we couldn’t do without onions.

Tell us a hidden gem in the area?
We’d probably all say different things. I’d say for me [Vicky] it’s the beach because I’ve got two dogs. For Sarah it’s swimming in the sea.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Probably quite a lot! You learn the hard way generally, but it’s the way it is and it’s unfolded like it has.

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