‘We’re gonna miss this plaice’ – chip shop closes after 45 years
Emotional last day for the family who worked together to serve up meals for loyal customers
05 March, 2021 — By Helen Chapman
The Harmanda family at the Quality Fish Bar: Tony, Eva, Mary, Lucy and Jarka
A FAMILY-RUN fish and chip shop in Finsbury Park has shut its doors and bid an emotional farewell to customers who knew them for more than four-and-a-half decades.
The Quality Fish Bar in Seven Sisters Road was flooded with teary-eyed customers saying goodbye with cards and flowers on Saturday.
Tony Harmanda, 59, said: “As a family we decided 45 years is enough. We can’t carry on pushing and pushing and pushing.
“We need to change lifestyles and do something less stressful.”
He grew up above the shop with his sisters, Mary and Eva. The family lost their brother Chris Harmanda three years ago when he died aged 59. Chris had started London Greek Radio which is still running today.
Tony said: “It’s sad but I can’t carry on. Most of our lives we have spent here but it doesn’t feel the same without Chris.”
Over the years the shop built up a “family” of faithful customers, including football fans on their way to watch Arsenal.
Mary Harmanda said she remembers them watching at the window and applauding while she wrapped up portions as fast as she could.
“It is emotional and it is heart-breaking. That’s what mum wanted – all of us to stay together,” she said. “Eventually it would have to come to an end at some point. I didn’t realise it would come around so quick.”
The siblings’ father arrived in England in 1966 and worked three jobs.
He had a cousin from Cyprus who moved to Fulham and ran a fish and chip shop and then taught him the trade.
Initially, he had planned to buy the shop and sell it on but 45 years later the family are here.
Tony said: “Mum had cancer and died when she was only 45. They decided to stay instead of selling it. It was home. Our parents came here with nothing. They never expected anything from anybody but they built this life here for themselves and for us.”
He said their busiest period was in the 1980s at a time when they were the only takeaway option on the strip and would stay open until 5am.
Eva Harmanda said: “A lot of our customers don’t believe it. It’s been a hard few years but we have got lots of loyal lovely customers. We’ve had people come here in their prams as babies – and now they are pushing prams. It’s a home from home.”
Customer Khalid Abbaas, who lives nearby, said: “When my dad died, they were all so supportive of me. Tony always remembered when my birthday was and would buy me a cake. They’re like a family to me.”
Another regular, Lorraine Pearson, had been coming to the shop since 1982. She said: “When my husband had a brain tumour I would come in here and feel comforted. Tony would give advice. It’s so sad they are going.”
Ingrid Mansfield-Alma, also a fan, said: “I’m gutted. Finsbury Park will never be the same again.”
The family held a memorial service the day after their shop closed to celebrate Chris’s life.