In order to escape military service, Bernardo Stella left Italy during the heat wave that was engulfing Italy in the summer of 1957. He travelled to England and found the cooler, green fields of Kent re-energising. He had found his Eden.
In 1958 there was a military raid in a Cypriot village, where freedom fighters had sought refugee in the local church. A very young Androulla Stella fought back and disarmed an English soldier. To escape retribution Androulla came to London.
In 1959 Bernardo moved to London to work in a French restaurant. Here is where he met his future wife Androulla.
Their love began when the chef put a live lobster on Androulla’s back and she fainted. Whilst the staff were laughing, Bernardo rushed to her aid with a glass of water and a gentle pat on the cheek, followed by a furious telling off to the culprit. They have been together ever since.
After much looking for the right establishment, on March the 5th 1962, they opened La Gaffe in Hampstead in a building that was once the site of a shepherd’s cottage (dating back to 1734!) And here we have the Genesis of “La Gaffe”, meaning the mistake. The name arose from the reasoning that for a Cypriot and an Italian to open a French restaurant in north-west London could only be a “Gaffe”.
From modest beginnings of only a few tables constructed from barrels, drinks bought from the pub next door, Bernardo taking orders and with Androulla doing all the cooking, La Gaffe began. Over the years La Gaffe has expanded and introduced the popular guest accommodation in 1976 and the superb value wine bar in 1986. La Gaffe prides itself as being a warm, welcoming, family-run business where neighbours and regulars become part of the family.
The hard work of Bernardo and Androulla has been acknowledged with many accolades over the years. The Stella family and long serving staff are justly proud of providing decades of continuous service to the local community and travellers the world over.
Benvenuti a La Gaffe e Buon appetito