Comfort food for thought: the Store Next Door

Chew restaurant owners open up the Store Next Door

Photo credit to Michelle Saromo.

Even before popular restaurant Chew opened on Waterloo Street in the River Heights neighbourhood in 2013, owners Kristen Chemerika-Lew and Kyle Lew had always wanted a store right beside their restaurant.

“We called it a ‘storestaurant,’” Chemerika-Lew said while kneading dough at their new bakery/espresso bar/food/cookware shop located right beside Chew. “We didn’t think it was going to happen. We rented the place next door, we opened [Chew . . . ] and then the hair salon moved out. So we figured, why not?”

In place of that hair salon stands The Store Next Door. The new store opened on Oct. 27, and while business is still pretty quiet on this side, it won’t be long before it becomes a bustling neighbourhood meeting place. It has a casual, cozy atmosphere that gives off the feeling of being at a friend’s place (albeit a distinctly epicurean friend’s place). A wooden communal table, soft lighting, and open shelves of foods make the intimate space feel warm and inviting.

Chemerika-Lew describes The Store Next Door as being “a little more accessible for families and people just wanting a quick bite, a cup of coffee, [or] somewhere quiet to sit where you might not feel as comfortable doing that in a sit-down restaurant [like Chew] in the middle of the morning.”

You can also expect to see a lot more of the classic comfort food favourites at the Store.

“Our prepared foods are a combination of either the things we did for the brand new location in Summerlin, NV and catering clients that aren’t on our regular menu, or the things we did for ourselves and our family and our friends that all said, ‘This is really good, you should make it in your restaurant!’ Except we don’t really have the restaurant that sells the chicken shepherd’s pie,” Chemerika-Lew laughed. “So it’s nice to do things that are a little more comfortable and casual and a little more reflective of who Kyle and I are.”

The couple have a global set of culinary influences.

“Kyle’s dad’s family is Chinese, my dad’s family is Jewish. We’re classically trained French chefs, as is our full-time pastry chef, Jamie,” said Chemerika-Lew.

On that particular visit, she told the Manitoban that they were selling bialys—her Jewish grandfather’s favourite pastry—for the first time at the bakery: “It’s like a cousin to the bagel, except instead of having a hole in the centre, the centre is actually filled with good stuff, so things like poppy seeds and caramelized onion and cream cheese.”

Their most popular bakery item? So far, it is the savoury brie and chives scones, a hearty upgrade from the typical run-of-the-mill cheese scone. They are—as Chemerika-Lew puts it— “a surprise sleeper hit.”

Although there aren’t very many regular items at the shop yet, according to Chemerika-Lew, “We’re hoping to find our niche as a comfy neighbourhood bakery.”

In the heart of the neighbourhood, right beside their already well-received bistro, no doubt they’ll soon find it.

The Store Next Door is located at 532 Waterloo Street, beside Chew.