Bringing foods of the world to Ontario homes
You’ve just immigrated to Canada from Europe. You miss your friends, your language, and your food. One day you’re out for a walk down King Street in Hamilton when you breathe in a familiar smell.
Following your nose, you open the door to Denninger’s and there it is: home.
From its humble beginnings in Germany’s Black Forest region to this first store opened in 1954, Denninger’s now has six retail locations, a manufacturing plant, and a warehouse—all of which employ around 300 people across Southern Ontario.
The retailer is an expert in bringing quality-made European food to its customers—clientele which early on were recently immigrated Europeans, but now include anyone looking for a taste of Europe in Hamilton, Oakville, and Stoney Creek.
Building on success
“Do what you know.” The old adage holds true at Denninger’s—to a point. Although the retailer became popular from its European-style sausages as well as its fresh and smoked meats, this is not Denninger’s only iron in the fire, as we will see.
But first, the meat.
One of the best kept secrets that customers may not know is the retailer’s own manufacturing facility. A 60,000 square foot facility in Hamilton is where all the magic happens—meat processing, smoking, cooking, chilling, and packaging.
· More than 200 specialty cold cuts, sausages and smoked meats
· More than 100 prepared fine foods
And, a strong tie to local: Denninger’s believes in supporting local farmers and local abattoirs—which, in their words “allows us to provide higher quality and fresher product to our customers.”
In addition, Denninger’s makes its food in small batches so employees can control each part of the recipe and ensure the highest quality end products.
And customers agree: at Easter, the store in Hamilton alone sells around 300 Ontario hams—and that’s only the store’s signature variety, which doesn’t include their Black Forest, bone-in, and Virginia hams.
Prepared with care
In addition to the retailer’s unique types of meat, “Denninger’s Own” is a line of prepared foods that draw customers from far and wide as well as those right in each of the store’s neighbourhoods.
Check out any of the stores’ reviews on travel websites and they’ll agree—local customers pop into the store regularly to enjoy such items as the store’s hot breakfast, which has become a weekly ritual for some.
Others living outside the area also see Denninger’s as a destination—a store that provides something that their local groceries and specialty stores do not.
By balancing both of these customer needs—the regulars and the tourists—Denninger’s is able to attract a wider scope of clientele than if it were only focused on everyday grocery customers.
Great service + free samples for the win
Each and every employee who works at one of the Denninger’s locations is held to high expectations. After all, a decades-old retailer doesn’t survive with poor customer service. Many describe shopping at the store as visiting family—customers feel welcomed and valued.
And of course, it never hurts to offer free samples. At Denninger’s, however, this has been turned into an art. New foods as well as customer favourites are offered throughout the stores.
Pork kielbasa? Yes, please. A bit of smoked Gouda? Sure! Locally made preserves spread on some crusty baguette? Why yes, that sounds delicious.
Showcasing the best of what the store has to offer and encouraging customers to try something new—therein lies the benefit of regularly rotating a store’s free samples.
Wrapping it all up
A focus on service, wide appeal, and more smoked meats than you can count—including only Ontario-sourced pork—and it becomes pretty obvious why Denninger’s has thrived over the past six decades.
But don’t take our word for it—take a stroll into any of the store’s locations and you’ll see (and smell!) what those first European customers did all those years ago. That and much, much more.