Saturday, 25 March 2017

Reflecting on Mr Amato’s Italian deli and Del’s cakes ...... changing Chorlton no 3

Now when they come to write the history of Beech Road, and they will, there will be a debate on what caused its regeneration.

Buonissimo, 2000
In the mid 1980s many of the shops were closing and it was unclear what the future held.

Just a decade before the road had boasted everything from an iron monger’s two bakeries, three butcher’s and a couple of grocers along with Richard and Murial’s fruit and vegetables business.

And slip back another ten years and you could add a fresh fish outlet, a television shop and much more.

But the onward sweep of supermarkets put an end to these traditional shops and for a while there were more than a few empty ones.

And then along came Primavera followed by the Lead Station and it was clear Beech Road might just be going in a new direction.

I don’t doubt the importance of these two establishments, but for me the tipping point might well have been the opening of the Italian deli in what had once been an off license.

Bob Amato opened it in 1993 and from the beginning Buonissimo was a success, offering a range of fresh food from pasta, to bread, to cakes and all things Italian.

No 56 Beech Road, 1985
Added to which he and his partner Del would order up stuff which were not available from Hanbury’s.

And the importance of Buonissimo was that it was bringing people onto Beech Road during the day, and from there they popped next door to Richard and Murial’s crossing the road to Joy Seal’s the Chemist and the Post Office and wandering up to Richardson’s for a pie or pasty.

Now I am fully prepared to admit that with Richardson’s, Sunflowers and the two butcher’s shops run by David and by Mr Henderson food hadn’t completely vanished from Beech Road.

Nor would I make an exaggerated claim for the role of the deli in regenerating where I live but it helped and what followed were the gift shops, and the bars.

Beech Road, 1975
There will be those who argue that the gift and bar economy has gone too far so that while it is perfectly easy to get some imitation Victorian soap there is no chance of picking up 4lbs of potatoes a bag of grapes and two melons.

On the other hand we still do have a pet shop, along with a new deli, and of course a paper shop.

Looking back Beech Road was the first, and has been followed by similar developments on Wilbraham Road and Barlow Moor Road, although we were beaten to it by Burton Road in West Didsbury which offers up that same mix of shopping experiences.

Beech Road, 2008
Bob and Del are still in the food business and continue to operate their wholesale business from a new building in St Andrew’s Square in town, and I still visit their old deli but now order a selection of tapas and white wine.

Location Beech Road

Pictures; Number 56 Beech Road, 1985, courtesy of Tom McGrath, Beech Road in 1975 from the collection of Tomy Walker, and Buonissimo two decades later and relaxing on Beech Road, 2008, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Amato Food Products, http://amatoproducts.co.uk/

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