Jacobs and Field is the edible creative product of two foodie friends, Johnny Pugsley and Damion Farah.
In the summer of 2009 we found ourselves looking for a new creative challenge and decided to work together to build a foodie haven. We started looking around for premises in the Old High Street of Headington, a suburb near the dreaming spires of Oxford. With over 40 years between us working in various bars and restaurants, we decided that a new approach and philosophy was needed. Our love of simple, honest, home cooked food brought us to design and create an informal space for customers to buy produce, meet friends, kick back, relax and eat in-house.
We found our premises in the autumn of 2009, an unloved and abandoned old Threshers wine shop which had stood empty for nearly 2 years. It needed far more work than we had originally wanted to do, but being an old 1930ʼs building it had a great deal of character and beyond the grime and peeling paint we could see the potential of the space and the building. We got our hands on the keys the week before the Christmas of 2009, and went to the pub to make a business plan.
Our building budget was so small that we had no option but to get stuck into all the work ourselves. Plans were drawn, walls were knocked down and holes were re-filled. New wiring, plumbing and plastering were installed throughout the shop. The learning curve was a very steep one but we have a finished product that we can truly call our own.
We searched the e-bay website and went on a road trip around Britain to collect fridges, deli counters, Belfast sinks, vintage fruit creates, old whiskey barrels and an eclectic mix of cutlery, crockery and glassware that we thought looked cool, had character and fitted within our small budget. Along the way we also visited farm shops, delicatessens, bistros and producers to find inspiration and to help stoke our enthusiasm, experience and knowledge.
We dug out old records of the area and found that in the 1800ʼs there used to be a market garden on the land where our shop had been built. For a period of time the two plant nursery men who tended the market garden were a certain Mr Field and Mr Jacobs. We suddenly had a name for a business, one that evoked history, locality and past endeavours all at the same time!
Jacobs and Field delicatessen, bistro and coffee house opened its doors in late March 2010. We decided to have a quiet opening. We had no big launch, we did not invite any press or do any advertising. We soon learned that Oxford is a very small city, and being situated, quite literally, next door to Waitrose has its benefits, as well as its drawbacks.
We quickly realised that our plan for running the business all by ourselves, with just the two of us doing all the different jobs required, clearly would not work in the long run as, thankfully, we were busy from the very first week of trading. Help came in the form of old friends and colleagues that we had made and met along the way. People would spend their days or mornings off from their already full-time jobs to help us out. Some left to work full-time with us instead, so we now have a staff of ten.
We stacked our shelves with amazing foodie products we found from small British and local companies who refuse to sell to big supermarkets. We also decided to make and brand more of our own products. Our meat is sourced from David John in Oxfordʼs historic covered market. Pies are lovingly made by Tom’s Pies in Devon, which is not so local, we know, but they are award winning, his parents do live around the corner and his dad kept coming in and pestering us to sell them. They are delicious and really skilfully made.
Bread is baked locally by our friend Jack at Le Bon Pain using locally milled flour, beer comes from Pip and Ed at the Shotover Brewery, just half a mile away in the restored stable block of an old farm. The list could go on for pages, as sourcing really great products is what enthuses us most.
Yet what is the single most important part of Jacobs and Field? The people. The local community have been so welcoming, and we really feel we are part of the residents’ daily lives. Nearly all of the customers are regulars and it makes coming to work an absolute pleasure.
We like to think that Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Field would be proud of the business we have created. We are certainly proud of it ourselves, and especially proud of our team. We were over the moon when we discovered that we had been nominated as the Best Deli in the South East 2011, and one of the top 10 delis in the whole of the UK. The judges, a panel of experts from the food industry including buyers, retailers and journalists, judged over 120 delicatessens, from a total of over 400 nominations.
We are now up for the title of “Delicatessen Of The Year 2011”. This will be judged on helpfulness, knowledge, quality of products stocked, customer service and above all ‘deli attitude’. The winner will be announced at the coveted food “Oscars” of the fine food world which take place in London on 5th September 2011. The website is www.delioftheyear.co.uk.
We are working round the clock to ensure we keep up the high standards required. There is no rest in our new career, but we are certainly enjoying every minute of it. Thank-you to all who voted for us, and we hope to see you soon.
Jacobs and Field
15 Old High Street
Telephone: 01865 766990
Follow the team on Twitter: @Jacobsandfield