'It's so much more than just a café,' Stoke Newington cafe owner says farewell
- Credit: The Haberdashery
A much-loved Stoke Newington café has closed, with its owner describing the eatery’s farewell as “bittersweet”.
Co-owner of The Haberdashery on Stoke Newington High Street, Massimo Bergamin, said the choice to close the restaurant and café last week was a "painful" decision.
Massimo and his staff held a party on September 26, to say goodbye to customers and the Stoke Newington community.
He told the Gazette: “It was a very bittersweet party.
“It was lovely because so many people came by and came to show the support and the love they had, both for the place and for me and my staff.
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“We got given presents, flowers, plants, cards, drawings, vinyls - it was really touching.”
The move follows the closure of The Haberdashery’s sister café of the same name in Crouch End. The Crouch End branch opened in 2009 and Stoke Newington’s opened seven years ago.
The café owner said he chose to close both Haberdasherys for a variety of reasons, including the loss of several members of staff.
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But he added that the pandemic was not a factor as the business had “bounced back” after the third lockdown.
Massimo explained: “My staff are the most loyal that I’ve ever had - we really are a family.
“But things do move on and people move on. They have been through thick and thin with me through the pandemic and Brexit but I would have found myself with brand new team, more work and the nightmare that is Brexit.”
The owner added that while there are staff shortages in Italy and France, they are nowhere near the levels seen in the UK.
“People are just not coming here. Why would they come here when they have to apply for a visa and they have to be sponsored? I would have to sponsor a person to come and work in a café. It just doesn’t make sense," Massimo stated.
He said most of his staff were from Europe and attributed this to a difference in cultural perceptions: "In the continent you can do a career in hospitality, it's not frowned upon or looked down to."
Still, the owner was grateful to learn that so many people were "touched so deeply" by his café.
He added: "I have been invited to weddings of customers, birthday parties, I have seen their kids come to life and grow up.
"It's so much more than just a café."
Before Massimo moves out he plans to host a garage sale at The Haberdashery on October 10 from 10am onwards.