AFTER 125 years and four generations The Cook Shop in Old Hill is shutting its doors this Saturday for the final time.
The business, which specialises in making Black Country classics such as faggots and peas, is closing because no buyer has been found to take it over.
"It is heartbreaking, I am so upset about it, " said owner Nigel Brazier. "The good staff and the friendly customers have become part of my family after all these years." His seven staff, one full-time and six part-time, will leave with redundancy payments totalling £11,000.
Nigel put The Cook Shop up for sale in April as he wanted to retire because he was 65 on July 15. When The Bugle broke the story the news was covered by all the Midlands media, including BBC Midlands Today.
Five interested parties looked at the premises in 193 Halesowen Road. The £120,000 asking price included the freehold property and all fixtures and the family's secret 125-year recipes for faggots and peas, bread pudding, grorty dick and their trademark sage and onion stuffing, but no one took it further.
Nigel, who was selling more than 350 faggots a week, said customers wanted to draw up a petition urging him not to close.
But the Old Hill-born is adamant he won't change his mind and has now put the property on the market for £90,000.
Nigel's Great Grandmother, Eve Billingham, began the business in 1889 using the front room of their home in Old Hill High Street (now Highgate Street). Her daughter Mary and husband Joe Priest continued running the shop before they handed it on to their daughter Iris and son-in-law Bill Brazier.
Their son Nigel took over the business nearly 50 years ago in 1965. Tomorrow and Saturday Nigel said there would be a party atmosphere in the shop as he is selling all the food and says farewell to his customers.
Nigel added: "I want to give a big thank you to all the staff at The Bugle for all their help over the years with stories and advertisements."
But one secret Nigel is taking into retirement are the family's 125-year recipes for his Black Country food. "I may write a book and include the recipes in there, but I haven't decided that yet," he concluded.
What are your memories of The Cook Shop? Write to us at Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL, or email editor@blackcountry bugle.co.uk or log on to www.blackcountrybugle.co.uk