IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

It’s time for Hope

Scheme to help cafe which has stood on Holloway Road since 1937 survive the pandemic

29 January, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

A FAMILY-RUN cafe which has served food on the Holloway Road since before the Second World War is at risk of closure.

But the couple who run The Hope Dining Rooms have been encouraged by customers who want to help it survive beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

In an initiative called “Hope for the Hope”, loyal customers are paying a bit extra on their orders in the hope that it may see them through.

The money is going into a fund for the cafe, but it is also being used to pay for free hot meals to those who are also facing financial hardship.

The cafe can be traced back to its opening in 1937, but for almost 30 years it has been run by Sue and Chris Anayiotou.

Once bustling with football fans, council office workers and university students lapping up lasagne and chips or Greek specials like moussaka, the virus restrictions and lockdowns have made its future uncertain. It can only serve takeaways at the moment.

Chris Anayiotou

When a customer, Ned Glasier, saw it had been put on the market before Christmas, he suggested the donations idea.

Ms Anayiotou, who runs the café with her husband, said: “He saw we put our café up for sale and wanted to help.”

Chris Anayiotou said: “We have good people coming around to see us. We let people eat and if they don’t have the right change, they come back and pay us later.”

Mr Glasier, who runs Company Three, a theatre company for teenagers, has been visiting the Hope Café for his lunch break for the past seven years.

He said: “I am one of their biggest fans or one of their many fans. They are honest folk and that place is an example of what used to be in Holloway Road. They’ve been there for so many years, they are the salt of the earth.”

Mr Glasier added: “They are the epitome of how people are affected by the pandemic. It is much loved, a pillar of the community, and it is the kind of place we are at risk of losing.”

The couple said they received grants from the government last year helping tie them over but months later they are struggling to carry on.

They rely on walk-ins to order takeaway but do not use online delivery companies.

“We don’t even use mobile phones,” said Mr Anayiotou.

“But some people have been coming here for years. We know how they want their tea or coffee.

“People come in, we talk, we share problems and have a laugh. We are family people.”

On the generous help the cafe was providing to those in need, he added: “The idea is people come in and, no questions asked: if they say they need a hot meal – they will get one.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced a new £9,000 grant to help businesses on the brink due to the losses caused by the health emergency.

He said: “We remain committed to protecting jobs and supporting businesses.”

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