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Owners of Topes in Rochester High Street hope to open The Cheese Shop a few doors away

By Nicola Jordan

The shop will include a small restaurant and cookery school.

The Cheese Shop will be just yards away from award-winning Topes which is run by directors Julie and Chris Small.

Julie Small and Laura Porter at Topes Restaurant in Rochester High Street

Julie Small and Laura Porter at Topes Restaurant in Rochester High Street

A planning application has been submitted for the business in the former The Fent Shop, which sold textiles.

It will sell cured meats, pickles, bread, hampers and British and Continental cheeses. It will have a rustic, industrial feel in line with the characteristics of the building, with brick walls and stripped back floorboards.

The sit-in menu will be cheese-themed, but there will also a charcuterie meat board, all washed down with wines and port. Seating will be limited.

At the back will be the working kitchen which will incorporate the cookery school, similar to the one already running in Topes.

Meanwhile chefs at the restaurant are being given a weekly night off when it is transformed into The Gin Palace.

Customers will be able to sample up to 40 different types of the spirit including Dockyard Gin distilled in the Copper Rivet, at the former naval base in Chatham.

Laura Porter, assistant restaurant manager, said “We are really passionate about gin here. It’s a drink that has really taken off. It used to be just about London Dry, but now it has moved on and it is flavoured with spices and different flavours. We also have a range of mixers.

“I personally love gin, but for the beginners, we have a leaflet and I have plenty of tips up my sleeve.”

The first gin session is tonight and it will continue every Friday throughout the summer months.

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