The TN card is the Tunbridge Wells loyalty scheme that rewards shoppers and diners for supporting local. This month its founder Jess Gibson chats to Ami at TN partner Gusta, the Italian delicatessen, café & wine bar on Camden Road about how he and his team love bringing a taste of Italy to Tunbridge Wells…
Ami, when did you open Gusta and who with?
I opened Gusta in May 2014 with one of my best friends, Mirco. When Mirco returned to Italy in 2022 his younger brother Lelio took over from him, joining me at the helm.
What were you doing before this?
Prior to Gusta, I was living in Naples and working in hospitality on the Amalfi coast. I wanted to improve my English and booked a six-month course in London. I fell in love with England and six months turned into a year, which then became ten!
What makes Gusta special?
Our goal at Gusta is to offer our customers an authentic Italian experience, so when they visit it’s as if they are entering a bar in Italy.
While coffee is obviously very important to us, we are also equally passionate about food, and offer a vast selection of authentic imported Italian meats and cheeses including Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella di bufala and Guanciale. We use these in our paninis, which we prepare in front of our customers, our pasta dishes and the very popular meat and cheese boards.
What other Italian specialities do you stock?
We also sell Italian wine, plus cupboard essentials such as Mutti tomato passata, Voiello pasta and Mulino Bianco biscuits. In February we restarted out popular wine-tasting events. At these events we showcase wine from different areas of Italy, accompanied by a dish made from ingredients from that region. Everyone attending receives 15% off wine purchased that evening. We will announce our next wine tasting event soon so watch this space!
How have the last few years affected Gusta?
The pandemic was a very difficult time. We faced tricky financial decisions as all high street businesses did, and we lost staff who understandably wanted to return to Italy to be with their family. During the lockdown, we really missed the community that we had built at Gusta, but we stayed open as much as possible and adapted as we much as we could. That involved things like delivering boxes of our cheeses, meat and cupboard essentials. Camden Road is still quieter than it was, but we are grateful for the support of our loyal customers.
Why did you chose to operate from Camden Road?
We chose the location because of the diversity of people who live, work and shop here. As Italians we were welcomed and felt immediately at home. The array of small independent business along Camden Road reminds us a little of our home town of Naples. We are about to open a second site in Kemptown, Brighton, choosing that location for the very same reason.
What is your favourite thing about running Gusta?
There are a number of things I enjoy, but my favourite has to be the people I’m meeting and getting to know. Gusta has connected me with so many different people I would never have ordinarily met. Some have become much more than customers and colleagues!
Why do you think it’s important to support our independents?
Our independent retailers offer a place where people connect. Whether it’s a customer coming in and talking about their previous trips to Italy, where they ate the best pizza ever, or about the weather, Gusta and businesses like ours are where our community comes together.
Thank you for joining the TN card. How do you thank members for supporting local?
We love having TN members in the shop and thank them with 10% off our coffee and soft drinks.
WHERE: 49 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2QE
Opening hours: Mon- Thurs 8.30am – 4pm | Fri 8.30am-5pm | Sat 9am – 5pm
REWARD: 10% off coffee and soft drinks
For more info: gustacafe.co.uk