Longtime south Roanoke grocery store closing to make way for food shop

Tinnell's Finer Foods shutting its doors after 82 years

ROANOKE, Va. – It's the end of an era for a south Roanoke grocery store, as Tinnell’s Finer Foods will soon be closing its doors.

Tinnell’s opened up shop in 1937 and has always been owned by the same local family.

"I’ve probably been coming here since I was probably 7, 8 years old, as a little kid, coming down here and having these great turkey sandwiches," longtime customer Richard Cheadle said.

Owner Rett Ward's grandfather opened the store more than 80 years ago.

"This is a piece of history. There just aren't stores like Tinnell’s left," Ward said.

He still remembers helping his grandmother as a child.

"We would come in and pull understock and stock the shelves and she would pay us in donuts in elementary school," Ward said.

Times certainly have changed and Ward said the way we shop has changed too. The days of buying everyday groceries from a mom and pop shop are in the past, making way for craft beer and grab-and-go meals. That's why after generations of history, the ward family is now passing the baton, but they won't have to reach far. The new owners are just two doors down at The River and Rail restaurant.

"While we are progressing and we're turning into something new and things are changing, we'll never forget where we came from in regards to it being Tinnell’s," said Aaron Deal, general manager of The River and Rail restaurant.

They plan to pay homage to the legendary store by keeping some of its staples, like pimento cheese.

"It’s been a great, great place for us all to live," Ward said.

Ward said they'll likely close their doors for the final time on June 29. Deal said the construction to convert the space into a restaurant with grab-and-go meals, catering and retail beer and wine will likely take six months.

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