20 October 2011

Gaby's Deli under threat

To be honest I have been wondering, what with the sad demise of so many independent London establishments over the years, how Gaby's, one of my favourite cheap eat venues has managed to cling on.
For decades I have enjoyed going in there for meze plates large and small, salt beef sandwiches and kebabs (not all on the same plate!) washed down with good cheap wine, whilst looking at the celebrity photos and endorsements and favourable restaurant reviews pinned to the walls. Back in the '90s I often worked at a company who occupied the upstairs floors, so the sandwich run was quick and easy as well as tasty.
But I am sad to report that Gaby's Deli is under threat after Westminster Council has given consent for the site to be redeveloped.
The council has some bizarre idea that redevelopment "will improve the look and feel of the St Martin's Court area, and this will outweigh the loss of the existing retail units".
Aaargh! By this, I assume they mean, homogenise the area by bringing in Starbucks et al.
Why change such a curiously interesting little pocket of London? The little courts that join Charing Cross Road to St Martin's Lane are really special and are home to some wonderful little bespoke shops and restaurants. Tourists love London history; they don't want to come here and see the same bland high street shops they have at home or at Westfield.
Rent hikes mean we've already lost most of the old bookshops along nearby Charing Cross Road. And, just further north, a great swathe of the St Giles area has been raped by plastic high rise buildings that still have empty shop spaces on the ground floor. To evict well-used, well-loved, flourishing businesses like Gaby's makes no sense at all. This whitewash must stop.
Gaby's planned eviction date is 1st May 2012. Join the Facebook campaign here.
Here are some details and observations, all to be found a stone's throw from Gaby's:

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