See inside new Northumbrian Food Hall before it opens at Alnwick retail park

A new shop specialising in local produce is set to open just in time to take advantage of the busy pre-Christmas period.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:05 am
Mark Turnbull at the Northumbrian Food Hall during its construction.

The Northumbrian Food Hall, at the new Willowburn Retail Park in Alnwick, is just about ready for a ‘soft opening’ later this week.

“We can’t say definitely but it will probably be some time on Friday,” revealed Mark Turnbull, the businessman behind the venture.

“There have been stressful times but, generally speaking, it’s been fine and the local lads I’ve had working on the project, led by Geoff Campbell, have been absolutely fantastic from start to finish.”

The view from the mezzanine.

“It’s been great seeing all the local produce come in and we’ve started getting some of it on the shelves,” said Mark.

He admits he would have preferred a longer lead in time to what he anticipates will be a hectic period.

“We could have done with being open a month ago but it wasn’t to be,” said Mark. “We expect some teething problems, especially with a new team of 15 to 20 people. Some have just started while others have only been with us a month.

Local produce going on to the shelves at the Northumbrian Food Hall.

“We knew we needed to get the doors open before Christmas though. It will be a very important time of year for the business.”The idea of a farm shop-style business has been in his mind for some time. In 2015, he looked at the site where Topps Tiles is now and had plans drawn up but it fell through.

But when this opportunity arose through site developer Northumberland Estates, with the benefits free parking and passing trade from the nearby A1, he jumped at it.

“We have to future-proof ourselves going forward and, as everyone knows, the high street is changing rapidly,” he explained last month.

It will be the second unit to open on the retail park following the arrival of Starbucks last month.An M&S Food Hall is coming, while Northumberland Estates is in negotiations with several other potential tenants.

The deli at the Northumbrian Food Hall.
Getting ready for opening.
The butcher counter.
The Northumbrian Food Hall.
The Northumbrian Food Hall.