Diane’s Pantry gets new lease of life as delicatessen and café

Diane’s Pantry, one of the most recognisable and iconic shopfronts in Reepham’s historic Market Place, has reopened as a delicatessen and café.

Vanessa (left) and George Hilliard (right), new proprietors of Diane’s Pantry, Market Place, Reepham, with employees Rachel and Neil. Photo: John Tym

Having closed at the end of 2015 under the previous tenants, the building has undergone extensive refurbishment after new proprietors Vanessa and George Hilliard took over the lease last June, officially opening on 6 December just before last year’s Festival of Light.
“Our original plan was to open as a café, but our delicatessen selection has continually grown as more people make suggestions as to what type of products they want us to stock,” Mrs Hilliard explained.
The range now features fresh bread and baked items, plus a selection of meats, cheeses, dairy and refrigerated products, as well as speciality goods, store cupboard ingredients, and organic, gluten-free and Fairtrade products – all locally sourced where possible.
There are also plans to obtain an alcohol licence to sell wines and beers; outside catering could be another possibility in the future.
The café area currently seats 24 people, with work in progress to turn the adjacent side-room into a “chill-out lounge” with wi-fi and comfortable sofas and seating for a further 6-8 people.
Breakfast dishes are available from 8–11 am on weekdays and from 9 am – 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays. Lunch is served from 11 am – 3 pm and includes sandwiches, ciabattas, jacket potatoes, soup and quiche.
All-day snacks feature toasted teacakes, home-made sausage rolls and a variety of cakes, muffins, cookies and scones, all baked on the premises, as well as tea, coffee and cold drinks, all available to eat in or to go.
All the meat is provided by Robertson’s butchers, fruit and vegetables are from Meloncaulie Rose, eggs from Vale Farm Eggs, and bread and ciabatta from Clarks and Pye Baker.
Diane’s Pantry has already taken on two part-time employees and the deli range is expanding. “We will stock to order and do our best to source goods for regular customers, but it could take at least 12 months before we get the product range fine-tuned to meet demand,” said Mrs Hilliard.
“We are, however, very flexible and looking forward to Easter and the start of the tourist trade ahead of the summer, when we will get different types of people coming into the town.”
Originally working in the licensing trade, having run pubs in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and in Preston St Mary near Lavenham, as well as spending 12 months travelling the country as campsite assistants, the Hilliards decided to look for café premises with accommodation.
After an 18-month search for a suitable business opportunity the couple eventually found Diane’s Pantry – and Reepham.
“We felt the time was right to get out of the pub trade with all the new regulations coming in,” Mr Hilliard explained. “We love the customer service, but without now having to work long hours late at night.
“Everyone in Reepham has been so nice and supportive, and we love the village feel while being part of a town. And our prime location means that we can see everything that goes on – we are right at the centre. We think there is a good future in a small town such as Reepham with all the positive signs for economic growth.”

  • Diane’s Pantry is open six days a week: Tuesday–Friday 8 am – 5 pm; Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; and Sunday 9 am – 4 pm. Cards and contactless payments accepted. Tel: 01603 920660. Email: dianespantry@hotmail.com


Photo: John Tym

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