Family-run park cafeteria lives to offer another day after internal criticism sees off Benugo chain

April 9, 2016 - Picnic Time

The leafier corners of north London are celebrating a delight of people energy after an upmarket food sequence withdrew from holding over a much-loved family cafeteria on Hampstead Heath.

Last Sunday a Observer reported that a Italian-owned Parliament Hill Cafe faced closure after a City of London Corporation, that runs Hampstead Heath, had awarded a agreement for a site – and dual others in Highgate Wood and Golders Hill – to a upmarket sequence Benugo. Alberto d’Auria and his family, who had run a cafeteria for 33 years, faced eviction on 8 May and were using down their stocks.

But, in a face of a open outcry, Benugo announced on Thursday that it was pulling out of all 3 bids.

“It’s been amazing. we didn’t trust it during first,” pronounced Alberto’s son, Alfonso, who found out about a preference when they were contacted by a internal paper. “We suspicion it was finished and dusted. My father is ecstatic.”

In a created statement, Benugo owner Ben Warner pronounced that, as a local, he had been unapproachable to win a contract, though that “having listened to a opinions of internal residents and people who use a heath … we have paused to recur a position. Having given this a lot of thought, we and my colleagues now resolutely trust a right thing to do is to step aside.”

The proclamation came after a rising waves of pressure. When a Observer went to press final week, an online petition had 11,700 signatures; by a time Benugo withdrew it had some-more than 24,000. At a packaged open assembly on Wednesday it emerged that a contracts had nonetheless to be signed, and a house was urged to reconsider. The City of London Corporation’s chairman, Virginia Rounding, certified that it had unsuccessful amply to take into comment internal feeling.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer pronounced it was “an extraordinary result, a genuine feat for internal people. It’s singular for a open management to acknowledge they’ve got it wrong in this way, though it’s unequivocally welcome.” Kirstie McKevitt, one of a organisers of a campaign, pronounced it was a acquire surprise. “Those events can spin into a bit of a bunfight, though a City rubbed it unequivocally well, and it was unequivocally bold of Virginia and Sue Ireland [the corporation’s executive of open spaces] to spin adult like that. we consider they were astounded during a turn of resistance. Still, we was repelled when Benugo pulled out. At many we hoped we’d open a dialogue.”

She combined that a D’Aurias shouldn’t see it as an forgive to rest on their laurels: there was no pledge they would be a owners to take a cafeteria forward. “We don’t wish a chain, or a place full of bearded brogue-wearers on their laptops. It’s about formulating somewhere with value for a community. But there is positively room for improvement, either that’s with a D’Aurias or another independent.” A designed criticism cruise during a café during 1pm [SUBS: SUNDAY] on Sunday will now be a celebration. Questionnaires will be handed out, to get a improved clarity of a kind of café locals want.

“Now it is down to a people,” says Alfonso. “When we started this we suspicion it was pointless, though a business pushed us to quarrel it. They’ve showed us that there was a point.”

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