Have you ever listened to someone else talking about their plans and thought ‘Hmm that sounds okaaaay but if I were in charge…’?
Having sat through yet another pitch to rent out the old butcher’s shop and turn it into a home and gift shop, Chris and Pat’s eyes met across the table and they shared that same thought. Surely the residents of Chipping Campden deserve a shop for them; somewhere at the heart of the community where they can buy quality local produce?
Fast forward a few months and behind the blue window coverings, you’ll find their vision coming to life as “Fillet & Bone”. Work is still very much ongoing but we had a sneak peak this weekend and can already imagine it becoming a highly popular fixture on the High Street. They initially plan to offer a butcher’s counter, fresh fish, local deli produce, fruit and veg, and artisan goods in a thoughtfully designed setting, seamlessly merging tradition and reclamation finds with more modern twists.
Chris Gates and Pat Willins already have successful careers outside of the retail and food industry, but plan to bring their transferable skills to bear behind the scenes. Whilst they may lack in food and retail experience, their passion and commitment is infectious and it is clear that they will do everything they can to make this a place for locals, both residents and produce. With the recent loss of the bakers, butchers and Drinkwater’s the greengrocers, Fillet & Bone couldn’t have come to the Chipping Campden food scene at a better time; Chris and Pat have already arranged to take on some of Drinkwater’s produce to ensure their community doesn’t miss out.
Walking into the shop, customers will be greeted by the Retail Operations Manager, local foodie legend (and the Designated Premises Supervisor of Broadway Village Green!) Barry Hancox, who brings a wealth of knowledge gained through a variety of local and national establishments including The Daffodil, Daylesford and Claridges. Barry has already been hard at work building relationships with some great local producers, trying out his sausage making skills and squeezing a coffee maker into the designs so that locals can enjoy an early morning dose of locally roasted caffeine.
With the shop not yet finished, it seems a little premature to be talking about the next phase. That said, there is plenty of potential for expansion with the original abattoir and fasting sheds out the back. Chris, Pat and Barry already have some excellent ideas but whatever they decide to do, it’s hard to imagine it not being a resounding success if they stick to their principles.
Having finished the tour, we moved across the road to Huxley’s for an Italian feast cooked up by manager Marco and his friendly staff. Over a selection of anti pasti, and some wonderfully cooked seafood, pasta and risotto, we got to know Chris and Pat a bit better. They are both warm, engaging and great fun to be around. It was nice to see that they had a genuine interest in our views as well, occasionally noting down our favourite local suppliers to check out when they got back to the office.
Seated in the window, we had a perfect view of the many locals eagerly trying to peer into Fillet & Bone; Chris and Pat should feel heartened because if they all become customers, the tills will be ringing all day long.
Check back on the blog at the end of March / early April and you’ll be able to see the finished shop when it opens for business.