I visited the Gateshead village with hidden gem restaurants and businesses

Sunniside, a Gateshead village with a strong community feel and well-established independent businesses
-Credit: (Image: Chronicle Live)


When looking at where would be a good place to visit for this week's feature, I decided to look a bit closer to my home in Gateshead, and settled on Sunniside, a place with a community feel and independent businesses. Sunniside is a charming village with a lot of character.

When I arrived in the village, the first place that I came across was Sorella Sorella, the family-owned Italian restaurant. I decided to head in and speak to Mark Burdis, who is the general manager at the restaurant, about the role that the business plays within the village.

He said: "We have been here for 12 years now, and as someone who has lived in Sunniside for my whole life, I feel like Sorella Sorella has been a great addition. It is something new to the area and it has been very busy ever since it opened.

Mark Burdis, the general manager of Sorella Sorella in Sunniside
Mark Burdis, the general manager of Sorella Sorella in Sunniside -Credit:Chronicle Live

"The business has gone from strength to strength, even when we have had to adapt during Covid and lost table space due to social distancing measures. With this being on one of the major roads in Gateshead that links it to Newcastle, the combination of the location, word of mouth and social media use has kept people coming.

"I know the area well and a lot of the staff are local too which adds to the family feel that customers like. I think that the popularity independently-owned businesses are on the rise, as they are a good mix of affordability and quality, and I hope that Sorella Sorella will be here for a long time to come."

I then moved further up the A692, where I headed into Posh Dogs, to speak to dog groomer and business owner Tracey Phelps. Speaking about having a business in Sunniside, Tracey said: "Being a dog groomer in a place like this is great as you get to know all of the dogs and it becomes a great community.

Tracey Phelps, a dog groomer and the owner of Posh Dogs in Sunniside
Tracey Phelps, a dog groomer and the owner of Posh Dogs in Sunniside -Credit:Chronicle Live

"Dog grooming can also be great from a social perspective for the dogs, so I tend to allow them to interact with each other while they are here with me. I think that dogs that are happy will always make my job easier when it comes to cutting their hair so I want them to be as comfortable as possible.

"Sunniside is a great place to be based when it comes to getting repeat customers, although there isn't much parking outside of my doors which is a bit of a drawback. It is a lovely village, with all of the businesses looking out for each other which we all love to be a part of."

After that, I headed over the road to speak to Michael Dawes, who is the co-owner of Sunniside Courtyard Cafe, Boutique and Gift Shop. Michael has been at the helm of the unique combined business for the last 10 months, and is already feeling at home in the village.

Michael Dumas, the owner of Sunniside Courtyard Cafe, Boutique and Gift Shop in Sunniside
Michael Dawes, the owner of Sunniside Courtyard Cafe, Boutique and Gift Shop in Sunniside -Credit:Chronicle Live

He said: "After moving up here with my wife who is from the area, I kept seeing that this place was up for sale and eventually decided that I would go for it and try something different. The local community is amazing and I honestly wish that I had moved here sooner.

"The people have been so nice and it is great how well received we have been, it's clear how strong of a community feel there is in Sunniside. We give people shelter from the elements, something to eat and drink, gift and clothing options, and we are also dog friendly so we try to cater to as many people as possible.

"We are also always looking to expand and see what else we can offer, for example, we have just started a pre-loved clothing service where we are asking for items from people that they don't wear anymore. I am also looking to provide some sort of eatery for under 18s as there is not much for them to do within the village."

Sunniside, a Gateshead village with a strong community feel and well-established independent businesses
Sunniside, a Gateshead village with a strong community feel and well-established independent businesses -Credit:Chronicle Live

As well as the places I have mentioned, there is also the historic Tanfield Railway which brings visitors into Sunniside. It operates preserved industrial steam locomotives, with the railway operating a passenger service every Sunday.

Overall, it was clear from my visit that Sunniside is a great place to live, especially with residents and business owners giving it such a good review when I spoke to them. I was also encouraged from my chats that there are people in the village who are looking for ways that it could be improved, and hopefully this means that my next visit to Sunniside will be even better than this one was.