The golden triangle
Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury
So how often does the WAG come in?’ That isn’t the kind of question asked in most restaurants but then they are not all owned by the wife of a famous footballer.
Chantelle Heskey, wife of Emile Heskey, is co-owner of Alderley Edge’s newest eaterie, Parea, a glamorous hang-out that boasts Laurent Perrier branding on chairs and hosts celebrity parties.
But contrary to what you might think she doesn’t just drop in for a cocktail and a chat. Chantelle, along with co-owner James Golden, has been working around the clock to make it a success.
‘The other day James told me “Someone just asked me how often does the WAG come in?” and James said “The WAG just served you.”
Adds James: ‘People think Chantelle’s going to turn up in a diamanté covered Rolls Royce and waft in and out, but we come from very hard working class backgrounds and we know that when you do something you have to work hard to make it a success.’
Ahhh, but this is Alderley Edge, the epicentre of Cheshire’s golden triangle, and an area that today is even more the focus of media obsession, thanks to TV’S Real Housewives of Cheshire. It seems people just can’t get enough of the glam.
Chantelle and James go way back. She set up a charity after going over to South Africa for a World Cup documentary in 2010 called Wags, Kids and World Cup Dreams. Seeing the poverty there she began fundraising to help the orphanages and they both worked together on events and parties.
‘And from that we got a restaurant,’ laughs Chantelle.
‘It wasn’t quite as simple as that,’ says James.
‘We looked in Wilmslow originally but that site didn’t happen but Alderley was great as a lot of our friends are located in this triangle. It worked well for our contact list.’
Chantelle agrees: ‘ And there’s a lot more going on in this high street. As more restaurants come here there are more people so it’s perfect.’
The pair admit that what they wanted was a fun local restaurant and bar and so they called it Parea, which is a Greek term meaning the coming together of like-minded people.
‘It just suited our concept so well,’ explains James.
‘We wanted a fun, local eaterie and bar. We wanted great cocktails because that’s what we personally like and then we have vegan dishes, as Chantelle’s husband is vegan, and our head chef has a real focus on healthy eating.’
There’s also the social aspect of having a place right in the heart of Cheshire’s three liveliest towns.
Says Chantelle : ‘You find yourself coming in on your days off because it’s such a nice place to be. I love it.’
‘Everyone in the village and the customers become your friends. It’s nice getting to know the locals here and it’s great having conversations, knowing their name.’
With live music and DJS at the weekend, the venue has won a varied of clientele, from people who want to drink cocktails at the bar to those who want to dine in style upstairs, or those who drop in for brunch.
Another bonus is that the pair now have their own space in which to hold events. Collaborations with big names such a Selfridges are already on the cards.
The one thing that has surprised them, has been the response to the pretty silk flowers which decorate the exterior of the building.
‘There has been a real fuss over the flowers,’ admits James.
‘People have asked the local council if we have had planning permission, while other people adore them. The Alderley in Bloom competition people loved them but one of the ladies hated them because they aren’t real It’s a conversation point. They’re very vivid but the idea was to suggest that we’re colourful and fun.
‘We want Parea to be the hub of the village. We’re independent, so when you come in you can be sitting with us. People like those little personal touches. It’s a little bit old school. That’s what I like about this location.’
Outsiders might be forgiven for thinking that the area is all glitz and glam nights out but like any sought-after residential area it’s the schools, the transport links and the diversity of activities which are part of the attraction.
Wilmslow, for example, has its very own symphony orchestra which gives music-loving locals the chance to play together and everyone else the opportunity to hear classical music locally and at a very affordable price.
Violinist Pat Quirk says:‘the orchestra has been going since 1949 and it is still very popular with a minimum of 60 members and many others who come along for specific concerts.
‘We’ve all got other jobs. Some are musical jobs but we have lawyers, doctors, university lecturers and more. It’s a hobby for people. I’ve been in the orchestra a long time now, around 28 years and I joined because I love music. Life without music is not worth living. Family and music are the two things that matter to me.’
Pat chose to join Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra simply because it fitted in with her hectic schedule as a young mother.
‘Players tend to pick their orchestras for several reasons, one being how good a standard it is, so you decide how experienced you are as a player and then consider which orchestra might suit you. It’s also about when it rehearses. Wilmslow rehearses on Friday nights and I’m a retired teacher so Wilmslow suited me.’
Choi Leung moved to Wilmslow from North Wales ten years ago and loves all that the area has to offer.
‘As soon as I came here I just felt really at home,’ she says.
‘The people are lovely and There’s lots to do. When I first arrived I didn’t know anybody but I got in with a local fitness group and everyone was just so friendly. Now I have friends for life and it’s really great.’
With Hoopers department store and great shopping and dining on the doorstep, Wilmslow town centre has everything you might need.
‘I love Hoopers they have lots of great brands there and Rumpus Resort is a good place to go,’ she says. ‘For me it’s perfect I get all my workout wear from Sweaty Betty and Rumpus Resort.’
With Manchester just half an hour away by train, Choi doesn’t feel cut off.
‘I love to go into Manchester, it’s a really good base,’ she says.
‘But sometimes when you get home from work you can just pop out for dinner at the local Indian or there’s a really good Thai restaurant, Chilli Banana, as well, which is a good place to go.’
It was work which brought Ian Sankey back to the north
west region after years of living in London. The chef has a high profile client who lives in Rome and so he finds that Alderley Edge is the ideal jetting off spot.
‘I’m only 15 minutes away from the airport which is great,’ says Ian, who trained in London at renowned restaurants including Le Gavroche.
‘I worked on private jets for about 15 years for A-listers from Robert De Niro to Anthony Hopkins, UB 40, Kaiser Chiefs, loads of people.’
Fortunately, there are plenty of local restaurants which have Ian’s seal of approval.
‘I’ll go to Sotto or Cibo in Wilmslow which is nice in the high street... there are lots, but my favourite is Yara in Alderley Edge. Fantastic food.’
He enjoys the laid-back ambience of the area but is concerned about some of the recent changes evident from the for sale signs springing up in Wilmslow.
‘There are nice people and you can definitely have a comfortable life here,’ he says.
‘But the high street has changed because of the rates. There are too many shops closing and that needs sorting out.’
Wilmslow is about to wow movie fans as Louis and Sophie Mundin open the Art Deco Rex Cinema on Alderley Road.
The family has already renovated several old screens, notably the Savoy in Heaton Moor and have now lovingly restored the 1930s landmark Rex, transforming it into a boutique cinema with two screens and an upper foyer where movie-lovers can loaf on sofas and enjoy coffee and cake.
PARKING CLAMP DOWN
Cheshire East Council is to take steps to clamp down on nuisance parking, with Wilmslow targeted first following a high number of complaints.
Irresponsible and inconsiderate parking in the town is causing difficulties for residents, pedestrians, people with prams, the disabled and other road users as well as businesses. Some people have complained of finding their driveway blocked, leaving them unable to get in or out of their own home.
Cheshire East is now working with the police, town and parish councils, stakeholders and businesses to assess needs and potential solutions. It will also look at the possibility of enhanced enforcement measures to clamp down on illegal or irresponsible parking, such as on pavements or blocking driveways.
They also want locals to talk to them about these issues and help them to reach a solution and plan public meetings and events over the next few weeks so people can have their say.
HISTORIC HOUSE FOR SALE
Interest is already building in a stunning 16th century landmark building in Prestbury – and it has yet to go on the market.
The 1535 priest house which until recently was a bank, was bought a year ago by James Smith. He has transformed the interior with the help of the My Father’s Heart kitchen installation company into a fantastic family home.
James has already had interest in the house from as far afield as the USA and Asia and believes it is so unique that the £895,000 asking price makes it a really exciting prospect.
‘It is Grade II* listed and is a real piece of English history,’ says James.
‘It was built by the Legh family for the church and was a priest house and more recently a bank. Turning it back into a house has been quite a project as there was a lot of planning permissions needed but being able to convert it back to its original purpose has been a unique and wonderful experience.’