Protesters gathered in Bradbury Street on Friday (February 25) to show their support for Dalston's All Island Grill takeaway, which was shut down earlier this year.

People gathered outside the much-loved Caribbean takeaway to listen to speeches as owner Levi Scarlett cooked up free meals for his supporters.

Members of the community praised Levi, for his food, his hard work in establishing the food spot and in his continuous efforts to support people in need in the area.

Hackney resident Abbey Oledipo has been an All Island Grill customer for years.

She said: "Levi's never kept left over food in his fridge. But what he does, he calls all the homeless people around the community and he gives them the food.

"He's giving back to the community."

Angel, who didn't give her surname, used to work at the takeaway. She said: "Levi supports everyone."

She described how every night when the shop would close at 11pm, a queue would be lined up and trailing outside.

"We'd be here, sometimes 12, 12.30, 1 o'clock [feeding people in need]."

Many of the people being fed for free, she said, came from the local area, in particular nearby Gillett Square.

Another resident who didn't want to be named said people will fight to save the grill.

He added: "Levi is a man who feeds the people, who keeps the community together. It doesn't matter who you are, you can go in there and you can eat. When this is not there, there is nowhere to eat.

"What do you think we want to eat in Pret a Manger? No we don't want to eat in Pret a Manger, we want to eat Levi's Caribbean food."

Robert Beckford, owner of the Dalston Jazz Bar, said Levi made the shop "what it is" taking it on when "nobody wanted [it]".

All Island Grill was once a car mechanic shop until Levi turned it into a barber shop and later into its current incarnation as a Caribbean takeaway.

Green party candidate for mayor Zoë Garbett spoke at the protest in support of the campaign to save All Island Grill which has served the community for 16 years.

Dalston ward councillor Peter Snell also attended the event.

He said he had become aware of the situation over the last few months because "people have been so upset about the prospect of losing All Island Grill".

He said: "The council's main concern has been on the planning aspect because obviously this is a privately owned site. But we are deeply sympathetic to Levi, we would love to see him carrying on in the area."

The councillor says he will be actively working with council staff to find an alternative premises.

"Unfortunately there are no vacant properties at the moment," he added.

The councillor says the council is "really concerned" about the growing popularity of Dalston and rising prices.

He also highlighted the importance of supporting and "keeping traditional businesses in the area".

In just one week, a petition launched to save All Island Grill, describing its closure as gentrification, has reached more than 7,800 signatures.

In response to the petition and protest, Hackney's mayor Philip Glanville has said: "I fully appreciate the concerns raised about the closure of All Island Grill, which clearly is a much-loved local business and an important part of the Dalston community."

However he denied claims that the closure was a result of gentrification, bias or judgement on the value of the businesses.

The mayor added: "Unfortunately [it] follows [All Island Grill's] failure to get the permission they need to use the building as a takeaway after it replaced a hairdresser in 2016, or to install a suitable extraction system to manage the impact of the business on local residents."

"These are standard planning rules that apply equally to all businesses."

The mayor says the council had "attempted to work with the owner" for years to "put these issues right".

He says its doors remain open to "discuss how they can get the permission they need to use the building as a takeaway, or to look at other options to help All Island Grill remain and flourish in the local area".

Meanwhile, Levi said at the protest that he was "overwhelmed by the support" he has received.

He added: "We give back to the community as much as we can."

To sign the petition visit