‘We are very fortunate to travel widely and love to experience new flavours and old favourites - however we are yet to find anywhere we’d rather live. “My office” – the kitchen –has windows that overlook the bay and as the sun rises each morning it reminds me I am amongst the lucky few.” Helen Fairlie
The beautiful limestone building that houses Stringers was built around 1888 and has always been some kind of merchant store. In 1925 it was the Sorrento supply store, which provided everything from real estate to drapery and boots. The Stringer name has been associated with the building since the 1920’s and the current owners, Helen and Warwick Fairlie, chose to continue this history when they purchased in 1992.
Helen said, “We never really intended to be general merchants but, after shopping in the store for many years we couldn’t resist when the opportunity arose for us to purchase. We have simply continued the story.” The building’s next chapter sees it specialising in wines, artisan bread and cheese as well as local and imported gourmet products.
Helen and Warwick have a long history in hospitality. They started Knockers restaurant in the 70s after that they moved to the Sorrento Golf Club kitchen. They also ran the restaurant at Whitecliffs resort in Rye before taking on Stringers.
Helen relishes in the fact the cafe is stocked with sandwiches, salads, pies and cakes ready to go, all made in their own kitchen. She said, “We also produce an extensive selection of ready-made meals including soups, curries, casseroles, lasagne to take home. We offer a variety of gluten free options as well. ”
“The chicken and mango salad has taken on legendary status, so much so that we could never take it off the menu during the mango season.” Items so popular they’ve had to “make available at all times” include the Chocolate Brownie, the Golden Door Fruit Cake, Mama’s Chicken Soup, Thai Chicken Curry and the increasingly popular Quinoa Salad varieties.
It is obvious that Helen and Warwick’s commitment is huge. They are hands-on, continually trying to keep up with the latest trends and products to offer their customers the best selection. “Giving better service and a higher degree of satisfaction to customers is our goal,” Helen said.
A selection that is an elegy to the local community is the local fruit and vegetables that are used when available, including figs, plums, and nectarines, in their cakes and salads, as well as their increasingly popular local cheese available in store.
“We strive to give our customers a personalised shopping experience,” Helen said. “We will provide that hard to get recipe item (from our kitchen if we don’t stock it in store), source products on request, and answer any number of cooking questions. We produce honest food with good quality ingredients and luckily that keeps everyone coming back for more.”