the history of the British Pantry


After living in Middle Georgia for more than 30 years, Jan Francis hasn't lost her British lilt or her taste for the foods of her native land.

In August 2004, that prompted her to start her business, British Pantry, in Centerville.

"We just missed the products of home," said Jan, a native of Eastbourne, Sussex, England.

In her store on Houston Lake Boulevard, patrons can find a variety of imported British food including candy, tea and various canned foods.

The candy - richer and sweeter than American brands - is one of her best-sellers. 

A traditional English dish popular with Americans is shepherd's pie, a concoction that includes hamburger meat and potatoes. Though those ingredients can be found in any store, British Pantry offers a shepherd's pie spice pack to give the dish an authentic English taste.


Jan Francis moved to Warner Robins, Georgia in 1972 with her husband at the time, who was a member of the Royal Air Force stationed at Robins Air Force Base. Now single, she also works as a real estate agent and owns a trucking company. She said she likes the British Pantry the best.

"It's nice meeting the people," she said.

In addition to the food items, British Pantry also features a variety of gifts, including British flags and dishes.

Francis has three employees at the store, all British ladies. About half of her customers are British.

Susan Turner, a British native living in Warner Robins for the past 30 years, is a regular customer. "This little shop means everything to the English," she said. "We can get things that we can't get anywhere else."

But it's not just the food products that keep her coming to British Pantry. It gives her a place to meet up with fellow English natives living in Middle Georgia, she said.

Francis needs only two words to give her secret to business success.

"Hard work," she said, though she couldn't guess how many hours she works a week. "It's definitely not a 40-hour week."