AN ITALIAN deli owner in Swindon’s town centre is celebrating his eighth year with the business after struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

Paolo Cianci moved DaPaolo Delicatessen and Cafe into its Commercial Road home in 2014 after working in a New York City wine shop until 2004 and having celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo visit Old Town restaurant Fabio in 2012.

During these turbulent times, in which he lost thousands of pounds, struggled to break even and his business partner left, Paolo has been supported by loyal regular customers who ordered deliveries while the shop was closed during the lockdowns, tried the new cafe area last autumn, and attended his fully-booked wine tasting classes

He told the Adver: “It’s been very difficult for me and every other small business just to pay the bills, but I am so grateful to my customers for their help and loyalty, I would not have made it through without them.

“I thought the pandemic would last a few months but we’re almost into its third year now. I’ve been very careful with what I buy, I can’t afford to stretch myself or waste anything.

“This part of town is a good location but it sometimes feels like a no-man’s land, with the Tented Market shut. I still manage to survive, like a gladiator in the arena.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years altogether and I enjoy my work, that’s why I don’t give up easily - and if I stayed home, I don’t know what I would do. I just finished paying back the loan I took out to start this deli, and I’ve got ideas for the future.”

DaPaolo Delicatessen has just added a cafe area

DaPaolo Delicatessen has just added a cafe area

He and an investor had planned to make a website selling rare wines and transform part of his shop to extend its vino offerings, but the pandemic caused the plans to fall through

The Swindon Wine Merchants website is up and running, though unfinished, and he still hopes to find an investment partner to get the shop renovation off the ground.

Paolo added: “It’s what Swindon needs, it’s something different, a winery, patisserie and cafe. Everywhere sells pasta but I’m a wine merchant, it’s what I know.

“I could help people find the ones they’d like instead of them going to a supermarket and just picking one that looks good. I just want to find someone to work with me on my plans, and pass this energy on to someone else.”

DaPaolo Delicatessen on Commercial Road

DaPaolo Delicatessen on Commercial Road