The Ham and High patch has seen some much-loved restaurants and cafes close during 2023.

The past few years seem to be among the hardest in recent memory for running a restaurant or cafe.

Following the pressures of the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine triggered a rise in food prices and energy bills combined with customers having less money to spend.

But not all businesses brought down the shutters for these reasons. Closing in uncertain circumstances was Monak, a pan-Asian restaurant in Abbey Road, St John’s Wood.

Ham & High: Monak, in Abbey Road, was the scene of an arson attempt and shootingMonak, in Abbey Road, was the scene of an arson attempt and shooting (Image: Google)

Monak has remained closed since the evening of April 28 after an armed group, said to be wearing balaclavas, fled the scene after starting a fire.

The Metropolitan Police says that a “number of males” entered the venue at 10.30pm before threatening staff with machetes.

The force applied to Westminster Council in June to review the licence of the restaurant, citing the arson attack and an incident on May 12, 2022, when customers fled to the back of the premises after shots were reportedly fired at the restaurant.

Ham & High: Swain's Wine Bar and Store closed in 2023Swain's Wine Bar and Store closed in 2023 (Image: Google)

The Ham & High reported in April that Swain's Wine Bar & Store, a popular restaurant and wine bar in Parliament Hill, might close after the landlord changed the locks.

The dog-friendly venue opened in December 2021 with a horseshoe-shaped bar, a wine list, and a menu offering sharing plates.

Open four days a week, it became popular for its wine tastings and dog-themed evenings.

The owner said she was "hopeful" the situation could be resolved after it was handed notice by landlords Fruition Properties for non-payment of rent and breach of fire regulations, but it has not reopened.

Ham & High: Yue Hong Kong Cuisine in Muswell Hill BroadwayYue Hong Kong Cuisine in Muswell Hill Broadway (Image: Street View / screengrab from @yue.hongkongcuisine Instagram Live)

YUE Hong Kong Cuisine in Muswell Hill Broadway closed its doors in May, just weeks after its opening ceremony.

The grand opening of the restaurant – said to blend Japanese, Thai and European cuisines with Chinese cooking – was officially held on April 24.

But the restaurant announced on May 15 that it was closing for good after telling customers it was shutting temporarily the previous week, citing a break-in on May 10.

Ham & High: Hedgehog Cafe in Muswell Hill Broadway was much missed by customersHedgehog Cafe in Muswell Hill Broadway was much missed by customers (Image: Google)

Customers reacted with sadness in May as Hedgehog cafe, in Muswell Hill Broadway, revealed that it had ceased trading.

Many blamed high rents and competition from nearby chains for the closure of the independent business, run by “lovely caring people”.

A notice on the door read: "Thank you for supporting us in this 7 years of our business and being part of our journey through good times and bad times we have been forced to make this decision with a heavy heart and close down the shop.

"We will miss you all."

Ham & High: Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (right) once ate at Banner's in Crouch EndLegendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (right) once ate at Banner's in Crouch End (Image: Street View / PA)

A restaurant where legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan once ate bowed out in September.

Established in 1992, Banner's in Park Road, Crouch End, had a Bob Dylan table after the future Nobel prizewinner dined at the place in August 1993.

Announcing the closure on Instagram in May, owner Juliette Banner wrote: “I could write this message with a heavy heart, but instead it’s filled with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and accomplishment."

Ham & High: Limone Fine Foods in Highgate High Street announced its closure in NovemberLimone Fine Foods in Highgate High Street announced its closure in November (Image: Street View)

In November, family-run deli Limone Fine Foods in Highgate High Street made the “painful and sad decision” to close after 11 years.

In a notice on the shopfront, owner Emine Gokturk explained that “ultimately, family and health have to come first.”

It read: “It’s been an incredible journey with many highs and lows. We survived Brexit, the dreaded pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis.

“I’ve met and made friends with such lovely people, including staff.

“Hopefully you will appreciate the contribution and memories Limone has created for this village and of course the delicious products and Xmas Panettones!”

Ham & High: Chains on the doors of Italian restaurant Calici in Belsize VillageChains on the doors of Italian restaurant Calici in Belsize Village (Image: Linda Grove)

As December began, chains were seen securing the doors of Italian restaurant Calici, located in the heart of Belsize Village

The restaurant took over the Belsize Lane premises of the former Pan-Asian eatery XO in 2019.

Co-founder Andrea Casasola, who had worked overseeing TV chef Gino D’Campo’s restaurants, told the Ham&High before its opening that the aim was to “bring simple and delicious Italian food”.

There was no reason given for the closure, only a brief notice on the restaurant website reading: “We are sorry, Calici is now closed”.

Robert Stephenson-Padro, coordinator of the Belsize Village Business Association, said Calici provided “an immense amount of joy” but he understood the lease had been sold.

Ham & High: Tania's of Hampstead owner Ghassan Akar at his new premises in College CrescentTania's of Hampstead owner Ghassan Akar at his new premises in College Crescent (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

One much-loved business that survived – although it had to move – was Tania's of Hampstead, a cafe and deli in Hampstead Antiques & Craft Emporium in Heath Street that won consistently high TripAdvisor ratings.

Tania’s owner Ghassan Akar began operating from a van at the emporium's entrance in 2009, before upgrading to a shop in 2014.

After the emporium was bought, he vowed to stay, citing a lease that ran until May 2024. But he found himself at odds with its new owner, eventually reopening in Northways Parade in College Crescent, near Swiss Cottage Tube station.