Truly, these are strange times. Ten years ago, when we reached our half century, we threw a big party where we opened our doors to friends and neighbours…locals in Hampstead and guests from around the world, to say thank you for supporting us so faithfully over the years.
A decade has passed and, two years ago, we were already contemplating a celebration to commemorate our 60th anniversary. Then the pandemic hit, and our lives were turned upside down. Our doors were closed for a very long time, unable to trade. Times were extremely tough. However, like many other small businesses in London and around the world, we survived and slowly we have started to recover - as I write this in the spring of 2022 - I hope we have turned a corner in regards to the global pandemic.
Still, that doesn’t mean we can celebrate the way we’d like to. The fact is that many of our more elderly patrons, and anyone in a high-risk group, might well feel uncomfortable at coming to a party at our restaurant, when so many people would inevitably be packed into a small space. I gave serious thought as to what to do and decided to postpone a party until such time that we can all feel safe.
Moreover, the world events in the last ten days have made us all realise how fragile our lives are - not just because of a global pandemic, but because, for the first time in 70 years, there’s a serious conflict raging in Europe. It would be very hard for us to celebrate this weekend, the way we’d like to, with so many people around us displaced and terrified for their very lives.
The celebrations are postponed for now, but when things are easier, we will open our doors to you all and celebrate our six decades in business.
In the meantime, I would like to take a moment to reflect upon how we began - with the dreams of my mother and father, immigrants from Italy and Cyprus respectively, who came to England with little more than the shirts on their backs and ended up building a business in Hampstead that is known and loved by thousands today. When my mum and dad opened La Gaffe, on Heath Street, back in 1962, with my dad front of house and my mum in the kitchen, no doubt they had little idea what the future would bring. Could they really have imagined that they’d expand, offering guest accommodation to visitors from around the globe? That they’d add on a cosy bar, where locals and friends could meet for a light bite, a quick coffee or a leisurely glass of wine…….And I am proud to continue their legacy.
Many guests have told me over the years that when they visit La Gaffe it’s like stepping into your home away from home. This is the greatest compliment that we can receive. And it is wonderful to know that what we try our best to offer is appreciated and understood. In our modern technologically advanced world, however many chains appear - there will still be a place for a unique establishment like ours.
We’re so happy that we’re still here, in Hampstead, offering food and accommodation to locals and international travellers alike and, believe us, we don’t take your support for granted. The last two years have been tough but, through it all, we hung on because we knew we wanted to see you all again. And here we are.
All we can say for now is ‘Thank you for everything’ and urge you to come in and see us - whether it’s for a quick coffee, a light lunch or a relaxed dinner . My mother, father, myself and all my lovely staff - the waiters, the kitchen staff, our loyal housekeepers, and trusty handyman love what they do and - you know what they say - when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work at all!
Happy 60th anniversary to us and may we have many more years in business, with all of you walking through our doors.
See you soon…and cheers!
Lorenzo & family