WHITFIELD’S general store will be rebuilt about a year after a tragic fatal fire destroyed the previous building.
Much-loved culinary identity Barb Sartori died in the fire in early February.
Yesterday her son Steve Sartori revealed plans to rebuild on the now-vacant site.
“We had hoped to have the building work finished by December,” he said.
But Mr Sartori said the development application was still before Wangaratta Council’s planning department.
A start on the new store is expected within the next few months.
“We’re planning to rebuild a general store there pretty much the same as it was,” he said.
Mr Sartori said the new building would better suit the site and the previous one “was so old and didn’t suit its purpose any more”.
Instead of the previous store’s weatherboard exterior, the new building is likely to have a Colourbond finish with a verandah out the front.
A garden will be created off to one side to give customers somewhere to eat lunch.
The store will be run by Mr Sartori’s wife, Jessica, while he will have a behind-the-scenes role because of the demands of his regular job as a Benalla policeman.
The business had been in the family for only a week when fire, started by an electrical fault, destroyed the 110-year-old building.
Barb Sartori, 52, was well known in the North East as one of the Three Nonnas who shared their skills in their Melbourne Food and Wine Festival cooking sessions in the King Valley.
She had planned to turn the store into a regional produce store.
Mr Sartori said the food focus would continue, though not to the extent envisaged by his mother.
“We don’t plan on making it a restaurant like she once had,” he said.
“But there are some food services she provided that we would like to continue with and keep going.
“She used to make all her speciality takeaway meals from the restaurant here and we’d like to continue with at least some of those.
“She also worked in with the local schools with cooking education, which would be something we’d be keen to do as well.”
Mr Sartori said the sooner they got going with the project, the better, with the peak tourist season over summer.
He said the community had been very supportive of their plans.
“They really want their store back,” he said.