Story & Photos: Rohan Francis
After 26 years of unceasing service at the Burngreave Wine Shop, the Patel family have decided to take retirement and sell their shop on the corner of Burngreave Road and Catherine Street.
The family – brother Ramesh Lal and sister Debbie and their partners Hansa and Ramesh, came to Sheffield from Bradford in 1986. For the first 5 years they lived above the shop, working all hours to get the business established in what were often seen as tougher times in Burngreave.
As today, the shop formed a hub for locals during the 80s and 90s, its surrounding streets and houses home to a large Jamaican community fondly remembered by Ramesh:
“There were lots of people living round here and many community festivals back then. Music in the Sun started just up the road and then there was the Catherine Pub which was always lively!”
Demolition and renovation brought changes with local pubs closed and houses cleared. Trade was tough but the Patels soldiered on, renewing the shop and bringing in new products.
“We got our first freezer after a year, then we could stock many more items for our customers.”
Customers were always the key to the shop’s success. Ramesh and his family always responded to customer’s requests however varied,stocking everything from veggie sausage to a miniature sherry. There can't be many shops so well stocked!
Now Ramesh believes the area has improved. “It's always been a good community but the streets are better.” During this time of transformations, he has watched as his customers have grown up, some from tiny children into parents themselves and even some whose children have had children and still support his shop!
In all this time, the shop has never closed, not even in heavy snow or floods – although he did close for half a day when his mother-in-law passed away. After so many years hard work what does Mr Patel have planned for his retirement?
“I will be staying in Burngreave, but travelling too. I want to visit friends and relatives that I haven't had a chance to see for a long time. And gardening, which I enjoy. Oh, and having a rest!”
Finally, Mr Patel wanted to say thank you to all his many friends and customers for supporting his family's business over the past 26 years.