Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 100

life FOOD & DRINK Photo left: The newely refurbished store at Chale Green. Above: Owners Vernon Tyerman & Jenny Kerry Storing the heart of the village A thriving village store and post office at the heart of the community? A shop and café where most customers are on first name terms with the staff? A thing of the past, surely. But at Chale Green Stores the essentials of the village shop of the past have been brought bang into the 21st century. It represents an explosion of regeneration, and a pattern for other villages at risk of losing their heart, to follow. “We saw it start to go into the death spiral that so many village shops and post offices have suffered,” says Vernon Tyerman, who with his wife Jenny Kerry, an Islander, had settled in Chale Green after a lifetime of travel. “It was to be sold and turned into houses: the people would have had to travel to Rookley for their nearest store. So we bought it.” Nothing prepares you for the surprise that is Chale Green Stores. Beyond the milk, magazines, hot coffee and sandwiches you’re in a shop with stock to rival any high class 100 grocer. In the chiller, organic cheddar sits alongside its more pedestrian friends and there is flakey smoked salmon from the Hebrides. Exotic balsamic vinegars, preserves and chutneys tempt from the shelves – you can even bring your own bottle and decant fig-infused oil into it. And somehow, thanks to their clever shop design, there is no sense of overcrowding. “I buy things I’d love in my kitchen,” says manager Sharon. “While I’m buying I keep the deli very much in mind too.” The café/deli is the other part of this story of the regeneration of village life. Pop in for an excellent coffee or stay for freshly made soup; or choose what you fancy from the deli and Chef Ryan Burr will arrange it, tapas-style, on a rustic slab. The menu gives a nod to things Italian, and Ryan suggests customers take a look at Vernon’s hand-picked wine shelves for an excellent bottle to accompany his dishes – pay just £4 corkage and something which might be off your radar on most restaurant wine lists are very affordable. And if at 5pm when the café closes you’ve still got wine to drink, it will cheerfully be re-corked for you to take home. Chale Green Stores’ Post Office is open 9am-1pm Mon-Sat, and the shop now stays open till 9pm. “We increased the hours to suit the customers – it is a convenience store after all,” says Vernon. Chale Green Stores, Chale Green, PO38 2JN. Tel: 551201 www.chalegreenstores.co.uk The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com