FORTY years of hard graft establishing a business and gaining a valuable reputation in the food industry has certainly paid off for one East Lancashire couple, who turned a former pub into a successful food hall and cafe.

Offering ‘everything Lancashire’ The Black Horse Food Emporium, at the corner of Abbey Street and Warner Street, in Accrington, was first opened in 2011 by Kathleen and David Paintin.

The food hall, deli and coffee shop has since won several awards and was recently commended in the Farm Shop and Deli Awards.

It is is co-owned and managed by their daughter-in-law Natalie.

“It was important to have the family-run deli here in Accrington and when the pub came up at auction it was the perfect location. For us it is about providing quality produce and having a good relationship with the community,” said Natalie, who in total employs eight staff.

Filled with the original features, the place oozes character and, according to the 35-year-old manageress, Accrington Stanley’s 1968 formation was held in the premises when it was a pub.

“When we first got the keys to the building we discovered some Accrington Stanley memorabilia that dated back to when they first formed. We gave a lot to the club and we kept hold of some to display here. We were also told that it was in the Black Horse the initial talks took place by the gentlemen who founded the football club.”

The Paintin family also founded and run the butchers, Ye Olde Sausage Shop in Oswaldtwistle Mills and David has been in the industry for 40 years.

All produce that is sold and served in the cafe is sourced locally.

“We wanted to create an experience so that everything you eat in the cafe, is what you can also buy from the shop. It is a fantastic way of selling and sourcing local ingredients as well as supporting businesses in the area. We buy as much as we can locally,” said Natalie.

The family use bread from Ashton’s in Blackburn, cheese and cooked meats from Westhall’s in Oswaldtwistle, chutneys and jams from Shadsworth-based firm Reidy’s Naturally and coffee from Exchange Coffee, the quality sausages including the award-winning Cumberland, come from Ye Olde Sausage Shop.

As well as the farm shop and deli accolade, The Black Horse Food Emporium scooped the ‘Loveliest Deli’ title from international drinks company Belvoir, after customers voted online late last year.

Alongside their fully-stocked gourmet meat and sausage counter they have a deli counter laden with mouth-watering cakes, delicious cheese, continental meats, olives, anti pasti and cooked meats.

“Lancashire is a great place for quality and fine foods. The deli was just what Accrington needed because you often find that people who don’t drive can’t get out on the bus to a local farm shop to buy the products that they need. Yes, we have brought a bit of the countryside into Accrington and people can take their time to browse round and pick out what they fancy. Our customers like fine produce and it goes down well.”

The Paintins also specialise in making personalised Lancashire hampers that are popular, especially with former East Lancashire residents.

“Orders for the Lancashire hampers are always being made, especially around Christmas time and special occasions. People order them for friends who don’t live in the area any more. Some even buy them for their mates who live in Yorkshire for a bit of a joke really.”

When the Black Horse pub was bought by Kathleen and David for £89,000, they spent six months refurbishing the premises from top to bottom, a great way to keep the tradition and heritage of Warner Street and Abbey Street shops, according to Natalie who is married to the couple’s son Simon.

“The area in particular is great to work in, people are quite loyal to each other around here and that is what it is all about. We buy our paper bags from a supplier in Warner Street, we welcome the other traders and they buy their sandwiches from here and we shop from them in return. There’s a great sense of community with other businesses as well as our customers.

“I think it works because we aren’t scared to try new things as well as keeping up with the traditionalism that people like.

“We are always open to new ideas and that’s why we work well.”