Drinks duo open upmarket pop-up 'off-licence' despite initial objections

two men and dog outside shop

Ben Gibbins, Matt Dakers and Bagel the spaniel outside the new pop-up wine and spirits shop in St Benedicts Street, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Two friends - and a pet spaniel - have launched a pop-up wine shop in the Norwich Lanes.

two men outside wine shop

Ben Gibbins and Matt Dakers. - Credit: Archant

Matthew Dakers and Ben Gibbins have opened Melville & Mayell, in honour of their mums' maiden names. They are joined by a cuddly member of the team, Bagel the spaniel.

two men in masks inside wine shop

The pair inside the new wine and spirits shop. - Credit: Archant

A small number of neighbours and the landlords of the property at 27 St Benedicts Street had objected to the pair opening the shop. Most of the concerns were to do with the effect on the street of another business selling alcohol.

However, because the pop-up sells mainly wholesale bottled drinks not for drinking on the premises, which is currently home to Think Property estate agency, it was allowed to go ahead by Norwich City Council.

The two friends, who had originally planned to call the business Dakers' Drinks, have more than 50 years of hospitality experience between them. Mr Dakers was an international ambassador for Stolichnaya vodka. He also has his own award-winning, tea-based 'Jindea' gin and is a certified tea 'sommelier.' 

He also founded the firm Cocktail Canaries, which sells online cocktails in letterbox pouches, in the first lockdown after moving back to Norfolk to start a family.

bottles of wine and spirits in shop

The new wine and spirits shop. - Credit: Archant

Mr Gibbins ran training for a major wine and spirits wholesaler as well as working at the Wildebeest, Stoke Holy Cross and was head chef at the Duke’s Head in Somerleyton. He then helped reopen The Cottage pub in Silver Road last August, before the last lockdown, with business partner Richard O'Brien.

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Mr Gibbins said: "I think people want an alcoholic drink more than ever in lockdown. We think we are in a good location because although there is Majestic Wines nearby there aren't any independents like us and Norwich does support its independents.

"We chose the names because it's a nice tribute to our mums. We aim to offer an eclectic range of wines and spirits at an affordable price point, including organic and vegan wines, and spirits that come with a real story behind them."

The pop-up is open from Wednesdays to Sundays and because it's classed as an off-licence, is an 'essential' retailer and therefore can open. It can only open for certain hours and is restricting the number of customers in the store at any one time.

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