BROCKENHURST’S parish council chairman was one of the first customers at a newly opened food shop as the village looks to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Pete Wales was at the head of the queue to welcome Forest Kitchen, in Brookley Road, and said it was “great news” to see the outlet in the shop that formerly hosted popular food outlet CJs.
Originally owner Sheila Cockwell had planned a 36-seat restaurant and deli but because of the coronavirus lockdown, she has been forced to adapt the outlet to sell local produce and a fresh fish counter.
“It’s been really difficult to open during these testing and unusual times but we will be selling fresh fish and other local produce from Jen at Naked Jams and cured meats from a Pinch of Salt with recipes developed by James Golding,” Sheila said.
“We are also planning to produce ready meals, menu boxes and catering supplies. The response and messages from customers has been amazing.”
Sheila started her food career at a busy café Swanage at the age of just 15, then spent several years gaining experience in a bakery before becoming manager and chef at the Marquis of Lorne in Bridport. She opened the first English bakery in Tenerife.
As reported in the A&T last August, CJs left the premises after a dispute with the landlord at the same time as Sainsbury’s also announced it would leave.
Concerns that shops were leaving have since been alleviated by the Sainsbury’s outlet being filled by the Welcome store – which also now hosts the new post office – and Forest Kitchen’s arrival.
Cllr Wales said the parish council was “doing all it could” to support local businesses, adding: “It’s great to see yet another new business open in the village following on from the recent renewal of the post office services at the Welcome store opposite.”