One of Middlesbrough’s best-known butchers has announced that he is hanging up his apron after reaching his 70th birthday.
Danny McCluskey’s retirement will also mark the end of an era at the Dundas Indoor Market where he and two other business owners have been loyally serving customers for a combined total of 70 years.
Danny – who has put Danny’s Family Butchers up for sale and plans to stop working in April – bought his business 15 years ago. He has been a butcher in the area since 1965 and previously worked for two well-known companies Fawcett and Munro.
“If I was 10 years younger I would stay,” said Danny, who employs three people. “I know I’m going to miss it. It’s all I’ve known since I left school. It’s about looking after your customers, giving them exactly what they want.”
Danny is not the only tenant who has been a long-term fixture in Dundas. Jean Hall opened a sandwich shop in 1991 before starting Jean’s Café nine years later and her cousin Beryl Cochran has run her cake decorating business Finishing Touches for nearly 30 years.
A famous customer of Jean’s was Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate who would come to the café after training at the nearby Wellington Boxing Club for a plate of wholesome homemade food.
“He always used to stop off and have mince and dumplings. He’s a lovely down to earth lad,” said Jean, who still works in the café three days a week. Ray Mallon also popped in for a coffee and chat when he was the Middlesbrough Mayor.
“What probably gives me most satisfaction is that somebody always comes up and complements us on our food. Some of the customers have come from day one,” she added.
As well as loyal customers the café has loyal staff. Manager Louise Matthews – one of eight employees – has worked there since she was 16. Louise and three colleagues took part in last month’s Great North Run raising nearly £3,000 for the James Cook University Hospital.
Although she now rarely bakes because of arthritis in her hands, Beryl made an exception for Danny’s 70th birthday cake. She has no plans to follow him into retirement. “I’ll keep going as long as I can. I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s just a hobby really,” she said.
David Harris, the manager of Dundas Indoor Market, said Danny, Jean and Beryl’s businesses have lasted so long because they put customers first. “It’s a cliché, but it’s true, and it’s why they have so many customers coming back day after day and year after year.
“It will be strange when Danny goes, but he definitely deserves to put his feet up. We all wish him a happy retirement and look forward to welcoming the next butcher here.”