A flavour of bygone East Boldon has been brought back to life with the opening of a new wine bar and delicatessen.
Named after the original building built by villager George Black in 1918, Blacks Corner has opened on the junction of St Bedes and Station Road.
Although it is named in honour of a slice of the village’s history, owners Jonathan Dryden and Chris Lowden have spent a year - and half a million pounds - completely renovating the site to create their new venture.
It’s been a labour of love for the childhood friends who grew up in East Boldon who say they were keen to open a business with a community ethos.
As well as renovating the Edwardian building, which had most recently been used as a business centre before laying derelict for a year, they have created a community garden at the front of the building which can be used by both customers and passers-by.
Jonathan said: “Everyone can remember the Black family, there are descendents still living in the village, and we wanted to honour their memory. George built it for his daughters who ran it as a store selling groceries and baked products. The building hadn’t been called Blacks Corner for 40 years when we got the keys, but it’s a name that’s still synonymous with the village and even the bus stop outside is called Blacks Corner.
“We’ve worked with villagers Joyce and Ken Longstaff to research the history of the building, as Ken is George’s great nephew, and we invited descendents of the Blacks to our official opening to cut the ribbon.”
Open from morning until late from Wednesday to Sunday, the business has a firm focus on organic cured meats, cheeses and flatbreads.
In preparation for the venture, the business partners ran a pop up stall in the famous food market, Borough Market in London, to learn more about their producers.
Jonathan said: “People use the term ‘farm to plate’ a lot without really putting it to the test. We decided the best way to do that would be to go to the farms. We specialise in 10 meats and 10 cheeses and we really wanted to get to know the producers, as each ingredient has a story.
“So we set up a stall in Borough Market, working with producers for a few afternoons, and we went to Bermondsey Arches where our cheese is matured before being driven to Boldon. The organic, community ethos is something we’re really passionate about, both in the building itself and the produce.”
The business has also teamed up with local wine supplier Eden Fine Wines who’ve stocked them with wines to complement the cheese and meats, with ales, beers and cocktails also available. For non-alcohol drinkers, there’s also speciality coffees and loose leaf teas, grown in England.
After a weekend of soft openings, the business opened for its first day of trading yesterday.
“The queues were out of the door at the weekend,” said Jonathan. “We’ve made a lot of investment in the village and I think people are excited to come and see what we’ve done. People still remember buying their groceries here and buying things on tick.
“We’re also the newest licensed premises for quite some time, if you look at places like the Grey Horse, it’s had its license for 200 years. It’s great to see something new in the village.”