Tarwin Street institution gone with closure of Tania’s Deli

Time was up for Tania Reid when she closed the doors to her Tarwin Street, Morwell deli on December 22 last year.

The closure was an opportunity to take a “well-earned break”, but two weeks into the annual shutdown and Ms Reid knew it “was the right time to leave”.

“Once I clocked over 30 years, I felt like I didn’t have to prove anything anymore,” Ms Reid, who owned Tania’s Deli, said.

“I just told my husband one day ‘I just don’t think I’ve got the energy to go back’.”

The change in lifestyle had been on the cards for the Tyers resident for some time, but the sudden closure was unexpected, even by Ms Reid herself.

“There’s been probably two occasions in the past where we’ve wanted to sell but we haven’t … this time it just felt like the right time,” she said.

Ms Reid moved to Morwell with her husband Richard in 1986 after meeting Lyn and Murray French – who own the shop – while holidaying at Merimbula, on the New South Wales south-east coast.

What initially started as a full-blown deli with an assortment of cheeses and meats, slowly turned into a cafe and later a sandwich bar and catering service, following the introduction of 24-hour supermarkets.

“We used to open six days a week but when 24-hour shopping came in, we decided to not open on Saturdays which allowed us more time with the kids,” the mother-of-two said.

“When we first started we had a big German, Polish and Dutch community here in the Valley, it was huge. But it was an ageing population and their children didn’t follow on with their culture,” she said.

Back in the 1980s fresh produce would arrive by train every second day, however, it was not the only major change Tania experienced in her 30-year tenure.

“We used to be huge in vegetarian foods, a lot of people used to come over from Traralgon to see us but now you have cafes everywhere in Traralgon so we lost that market a little bit,” she said.

“We tended to always emphasise on good-quality, fresh foods. We prided ourselves on that and tried to make it our niche.”

The dismantling of the controversial Tarwin Street pop-up park, which was located outside Ms Reid’s shop, also played part in the 55-year-old’s decision to walk away from the business.

“I loved the pop-up park, I really enjoyed it and it brought something to Morwell that I had never experienced before,” she said.

While Ms Reid thanked her loyal customers, many of whom she has not had an opportunity to say goodbye to, she said she was looking forward to taking her first “real holiday in 30 years”.