Deli-cious – exclusively local fayre on sale at new East Belfast deli

Deli-cious – exclusively local fayre on sale at new East Belfast deli
Sarah and Gary Jenkins, owners of Belmont Larder in East Belfast.

A healthy work-life balance is something we all strive towards, and for newlyweds Gary and Sarah Jenkins, opening Belmont Larder in East Belfast has seen them achieve just that.

Belmont Larder is described by the Jenkins as, “a one-stop local artisan shop,” the idea for which came about during Covid, when Gary was employed as head chef at the award-winning Poacher’s Pocket in Killinchy.

When social distancing rules meant the restaurant had to close its doors, Gary found himself working in its deli offshoot.

“It was a total lifestyle change. I began working daytime hours for the first time in my 20-year career as a chef, and while I was still cooking restaurant-quality food a lot of my time was spent baking bread and pastries for the day ahead.”

As one of the few places in the area offering fresh local produce and pre-prepared meals during the pandemic, The Poacher’s Pocket deli quickly saw its turnover triple, and Sarah and Gary saw an opportunity to go out on their own.


With the full support of Ronan and Jenny Sweeney (owners of The Balloo Inns group, Gary’s then employer) the couple offered on a premises in Killyleagh, an area familiar to them both. It was only when Ronan expressed concern about the lack of passing footfall that Gary found himself pondering a move to East Belfast instead.

With fond childhood memories of visiting Elizabeth’s Home Bakery on the Belmont Road with his late mother, “for a German biscuit after football practice”, Gary didn’t hesitate when a neighbouring building came on the market.

“The Killyleagh sale had been dragging on and was at a standstill. With this property we had reached a gentlemen’s agreement within a week. It was meant to be.”

Today, Belmont Larder is a welcome addition to an area bustling with independent retailers, coffee houses and crucially, consumers.

“Our fellow traders have been so welcoming since we opened a month ago. The feedback has been that we are offering something that this area was crying out for. To be honest, I think most people were just thrilled that we weren’t opening another coffee shop!”


As you approach Belmont Larder from the outside you’re met with a clean and contemporary exterior and a window full of mouth-watering sweet treats such as brioche donuts and Biscoff brownies. Once inside you’ll find a tastefully decorated interior with open shelves displaying an impressive array of store cupboard essentials and refrigerators filled with everything from homemade pasties to locally grown vegetables.

“From my own experience as a shopper I find it fussy and off-putting if I have to lift a glass cloche or open a freezer door to get to the food,” explains Gary.

However the USP of Belmont Larder isn’t its open plan feel or the self-service fresh orange juice and bread station, but rather the fact that every food item within its four walls is produced on this island.

“Our ethos is that there should be zero air miles on everything in the shop and we’re currently achieving that, with 65% of produce hailing from the north and the other 35% from the south,” Gary says.

Certainly, most customers will recognise Belfast Coffee and Suki Tea as local brands, but what about the Capparelli Artisan pasta they have for sale? “Made by my friend Carlos in Belfast,” Gary delights. And the Broighter Gold black truffle & wild porcini mushroom infused oil? “All local, and from suppliers who I’ve worked with for years.”

For Gary, a typical day sees him arrive at the shop at 6.30am, in time to bake the bread and pastries for that day.

“I’ve learned to work with a lot of different bread types and we have quite a selection now, from soda and wheaten, to focaccia and sourdough.”

This task will often be followed up with preparing individually packaged portions of freshly caught fish in the shop’s on-site kitchen, or cooking up batches of duck confit, seafood chowder or beef bourguignon for the grab-and-go ready meals. Most popular, however are the homemade pork and apple sausage rolls – “they outsell everything by a mile” – olive tapenade and plain sourdough bread, of which samples are laid out to try.


While it’s been plain sailing for the couple on a personal level – they met 13 years ago at work and have easily rekindled their professional relationship – there were some unexpected costs with the refit which they couldn’t have foreseen.

With another full-time chef and part-time shop assistant to think about, they say they’ll feel a lot more comfortable in six months’ time when they know their running costs better. For now though, business is booming and they are exceeding their projected sales.

“On opening morning I honestly thought there would be zero customers, but there was a queue outside at 8.30am. That was a real high,” Gary says. As for who Belmont Larder’s typical customer is, Gary explains: “Honestly, it’s anyone who appreciates good food and convenience. The ready meals are aimed at families who enjoy restaurant quality food but who don’t have the time or means to go out.”

In the future growth will come from opening one or two more outlets, perhaps in Bangor or Donaghadee, all with the same cool, casual, unfussy vibe and selling only local produce, “something I don’t think would have worked 10 years ago,” Gary admits.

Indeed, it seems the message of supporting local is something communities, especially Belmont’s, feel strongly about.

“As consumers we’re all flocking to shops selling local produce because the food just tastes fresher. Sarah and I are not in this to become millionaires overnight. We price as keenly as we can because we’re passionate about showcasing all of these amazing producers. We want our customers to return, and so far that’s been the biggest compliment.”