Rafi's Spicebox

Rafi’s Spicebox opened in Goodramgate, York, in 2004

Rafi’s Spicebox opened in Goodramgate, York, in 2004

First published in Profiles

A SMALL family-owned delicatessen has become a successful Yorkshire business thanks to its tailor-made ‘curry packs’.

Rafi’s Spicebox was founded in 1989 in Sudbury, Suffolk, by the late Rafi Fernandez, a cookery tutor and author of many recipe books.

Rafi developed the concept of the curry pack, a mix of spices, paste, onions and chillies that Rafi’s Spicebox staff hand- mix in store to fit the customer’s individual needs and preferences, such as heat strength and dietary requirements.

Customers then take the pack home and use it to cook an authentic Indian dish following a Rafi’s Spicebox recipe.

Rafi’s Fernandez’ son Kevin, Fernandez, now business director, who is entering the business for Retailer of the Year, said: “Our main product is entirely unique, and being able to watch it being made is certainly a novelty that brings many locals and tourists into the shop, as does the spicy smell.”

The Goodramgate business also supplies fresh spices and other cookery products, many of which are sourced directly from India.

Although Rafi’s Spicebox began in Suffolk, its York shop opened in 2004 and its expansion into the north has been so successful that a third store has just opened in Harrogate.

Another of Rafi’s key values is customer service.

Mr Fernandez said that Rafi’s 11 employees “are hired first and foremost for their love of food and passion for cooking, which makes them the perfect people to discuss our products with customers”, and that they keep their staff engaged and motivated by holding monthly workshops where they cook and eat their products as a team.

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