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Local Business

Cunningham Butchers, Food Hall & Bistro: Adapting to Support their Community

Calor customer, Cunningham Butchers, Food Hall and Bistro is a family owned and operated business in Kilkeel, County Down. In business since 1919, the family run butchers has been the cornerstone of the community, celebrating its 100th anniversary last year. Currently run by James Jnr, Cunningham Butchers has been in the family for four generations to date.

Following a significant investment in 2016, the multi award-winning butchers and deli opened a new bistro and fresh food hall, and renovated its butchery. The refurbishment to the shop floor now also offers customers fresh produce from the deli as well as a hot food counter, plus a bakery and homemade gelato ice-cream for those with a sweet tooth. Since 2010, the Cunningham’s workforce increased from three members of staff to a team of over 50, and growing.

Sustainability is a fundamental pillar of the local business. Specialising in local food, James Jnr and his team pride themselves in allowing their customers to see how well they treat their meat. The beef sold at the butcher is from their own farm, as is the lamb and James Senior dedicates his time to looking after the farm.

In March, the Cunnninghams closed its restaurant due to the on-going Covid 19 pandemic, while the Butchers itself stayed open for business. The Cunninghams set up a delivery service and were sending parcels of their meat and Ready Meals all over the UK and Ireland. They were able to relocate some of their restaurant staff to the butchers and donated over £2,000 worth of meals to the Newry & Mourne Hospice, Daisy Hill Hospital and Craigavon area hospital to recognise the hard work of staff.

The family run local business was voted the UK’s ‘Butcher Shop of the Year’ and voted ‘Best Butchers in Ireland at the 2017 Farm Shop & Deli Awards. In 2018, the Cunninghams took home UK Butchers Shop and Food Hall of the Year, and once again voted Best Butchers in Ireland 2018, a highly competitive title to achieve two years running. It won Best Destination Shop in Ireland in 2019 and during the pandemic, it was crowned Best Retailer in Northern Ireland at the Farm Shop and Deli Awards.

The Cunninghams have a great relationship with Calor since joining forces in 2014, using Calor gas for heating the business and the running of the kitchen. Speaking about Calor, James Cunningham Jnr said:

“Calor’s customer service is second to none. We are very happy to be dealing with them. We use their gas to both heat our business and for the running of our busy kitchen. We find the machines in our kitchen last longer when gas operated as they don’t have the electrical elements that can give bother and with the cost saving against electric.”

Speaking about the business, James Cunningham Jnr said:

“As the fourth generation of the Cunningham family to run the business, it’s truly amazing to see the same faces coming in and out of our doorway over the years. The local support we have received over the past 101 years has been humbling, and we are always delighted to give back in whatever way we can. By expanding, we hope to offer more variety, as well as employment to the local community. It is a direct result of dedication, passion and constant support from our family, workforce, and local community that we were awarded the accolades over the years. The recognition has definitely increased brand awareness, being offered the opportunity to showcase the shop and our town of Kilkeel. We were so proud to bring the awards to our home town and delighted to be playing our part in helping to highlight Northern Ireland’s strong food credentials.”


For more information on Cunninghams Cunningham Butchers, Food Hall and Bistro please visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CunninghamsFoodHall/