Village restaurant and cafe holds plenty of memories

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Charlotte Harding finds a restaurant and cafe in Amberley full of love and good home cooked food.

Sometimes in life you just have to do the thing you always wanted to do, as the phrase says ‘life is too short’.

While working at Lancing library Francesca Chapman always wanted to have her own business and when her aunt became ill she realised it was ‘now or never’.

“You can live your life always wondering what if so I just went with it and decided to do it,” she recalls.

The business was the Riverside restaurant cafe and bar in Amberley, somewhere she had always had her eye on.

“At the time it was for sale so I went to the landlord and asked if we could rent it from him,” reveals Francesca.

Loads of people love to share their memories of coming here

“He initially said no, so I waited and after a year it was still not sold so I went back to him and he said yes, I think I wore him down.”

When they first entered the property Francesca says it was completely empty with not a table or piece of cutlery in sight.

This meant the family had to start from scratch and give it a complete overhaul.

“We opened in 2011,” she says.

A cake sale and fete will be held in Horncastle tomororw (Thursday).

A cake sale and fete will be held in Horncastle tomororw (Thursday).

“It had been closed for a year so it had lost a lot of its customers in that time. We had banners outside telling people that it was reopening as we wanted people to know it was coming back.”

There has been a tearoom on the site since the 1920s so Francesca and her team have seen a number of repeat customers who have been visiting it for years.

“Loads of people love to share their memories of coming here,” she smiles.

“It used to be a little kiosk so it has changed a lot in that time.

“My dad used to bring my sister and I when we were younger so I have always known it, and my husband has used it when he goes out cycling.

“Running it was always something I was interested in doing as it has a lot of fond memories for me.”

Alongside giving the inside an overhaul Francesca also changed the direction of the business.

Whereas before it was a tea room, now Riverside does breakfast up until 1pm, lunch is from noon until 3pm and they also offer Afternoon high tea which Francesca says they can have whenever they want.

“If someone wants cream tea at 11am then we will do it for them,” she says.

“We have expanded the menu to include gluten and dairy free options which I think is really important.”

Key to Riverside is the food is locally sourced and homemade.

“We make our burgers and the batter for our cod,” she explains.

“A lady makes our cakes and scones for us which are just delicious.

“We also source our meats and eggs locally.”

Set in the South Downs National Park it is in the middle of the South Downs way ideal for walkers and cyclists needing a pit stop.

“We get a lot of people who use as they make their way to the West Country as well,” she says.

“We are dog friendly and have such stunning views it is a really beautiful place.”

Open throughout the year from 9am until 5pm in the summer it reduces its hours in the winter months. It also changes the menu with the summer offering caesar salads and Ploughman’s and pies in the winter.

Having made the leap is Francesca glad she did so?

“Yes,” she smiles. “I absolutely love it and it is a family affair, my daughter Charlotte is the manager, my niece and son work here. Also when the students come back from university in the summer we have the same staff so it is really lovely for the customers.

“I love the atmosphere and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Riverside, Houghton Bridge, Amberley 01798 831066,