chris o’connor | eat17

What do you get when two stepbrothers take over a run-down shop in Walthamstow? You get a grocerant, a hybrid of best local suppliers, staple Spar products, butchers, bakers, florists, barbers and restaurants together all in one place. Oh, and a craze for bacon jam of course. Meet Chris O’Connor, one half of the Eat17 team…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I live in Walthamstow and I grew up in Walthamstow so I feel very at home here and wouldn’t live anywhere else. It’s got everything you need – the tube is close so it’s easy to get into town, nice people, good places for coffee, open spaces if you know how to find them and I work here so that’s a bonus too.

What inspired you to first set up Eat17 in Walthamstow?

We started Eat17 in 2006 when we took over a store in Orford Road called ‘Paul Wines’. The village is one of those places where it just felt right. Strong community spirit, a few pubs with a nice feel. We knew the place well and felt strongly that if we opened a shop with a difference and a restaurant here we’d be supported by the locals and luckily, we were.

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Eat17 has outposts in Hackney, Whitstable and Bishop’s Stortford, why did you choose those three locations and where’s next on the map?

We’ve been in Hackney now for over five years – we’ve always liked the area and it’s just a ride from our Walthamstow shop. We chose Whitstable for its awesome seaside location and Bishop’s Stortford because James my business partner lives there, so we know and love the area too. Next up is Hammersmith – Fulham Palace Road just behind the Apollo. We are really excited about this site, it’s our first venture to West London where we plan to continue our mission of being ‘Not Your Average Store’ and you’ll see why. We also plan to open in Leytonstone. For us it’s close, we know the area, love the people and plan to give the locals a store the likes of which they’ve never seen before!

Your bacon jam developed a bit of a cult following but what are your favourite products and why?

Yok Chan Chili Oil made by a lovely local lady. She’s been making this classic Korean chilli oil to her recipe for years as a hobby, she jars the product and sells in very small batches. It goes well on anything savoury – avocado, eggs on toast, on noodles and on cheese on toast too, it’s awesome. Charles Bread in Clapton bakes amazing cinnamon buns. Bom Pecado have been supplying us for over 10 years with their natas, they’re the best seller in Walthamstow, a classic Portuguese custard tart baked freshly every morning just around the corner.

Describe your perfect day in London.

It would be naturally tailored around food and with my wife Siobhan of course. It would start with coffee locally – depending on which way we’re walking either Buhler & Co or Wynwood, both do great coffee, or if we’re moving passed the village Froth & Rind and maybe a pastry from the shop, who knows? Onto lunch at Chick ‘n’ Sours in Dalston, it does ridiculous fried chicken. Then dinner – Trullo in Highbury is pretty much a perfect restaurant. After that would swing round Yardarm in Leyton for a nightcap!